25 Ways to keep up a connection with nature every day.
Does this scenario seem familiar? You go on an outdoor adventure and have an amazing connection with nature. Perhaps it's a school excursion, a camping trip, or even one of our wilderness trails. You feel connected, awake, aware. The less important aspects of life - those everyday worries, somehow fall away and you gain a fresh perspective and appreciation for life. You leave a new person. Refreshed and inspired to keep up that connection with nature, and the regenerative effect it has on you. And then…Nothing…
Perhaps you start off well, but over time, the feeling fades until eventually, you're back in the chaos of where you started, albeit with a few amazing memories from your time in the wilderness.
The demands of everyday life and a lack of time seem set against your desires to maintain that freshly experienced connection with nature.
But what if you could maintain it? How would life look if you managed to hold on to that feeling of peace, a perspective on the important things in life and general sense of wellbeing that being connected to nature provides?
Keeping up a connection with nature doesn’t need to be overwhelming or difficult. All it requires is a commitment to keep connected plus a bit of creativity.
In this post we explore 25 ideas on how you can maintain a connection with nature in your everyday life
1. Go on a wilderness date.
Bevan and Jill are a married couple from Durban who came out on a 5-day wilderness trail in 2016.
"One thing we like to do is have a regular 'wilderness date.' This can be anything from a walk in the park, a short hike, or even just a trip to the beach to do some snorkeling. As long as it's outdoors. The main thing is that we are intentional about spending consistent time outdoors, and treating that time like a date makes us accountable to each other to make the time. The side bonus is that we get to share our nature experiences together which helps to keep us connected, not only to nature, but also to each other."
2. Camp out in your garden and sleep next to a fire.
Sometimes it’s best to keep it simple. Nature is closer than it seems and taking advantage of the natural world you interact with every day is a great way to keep up that connection. You don’t even need a tent – a good sleeping bag will do just fine.
3. Buy a bird guide and go birding in your garden.
There are a number of excellent bird guides that will help you to identify the birds in your region. Buy one that best suits your location and keep a list of all the birds that visit your garden.
Record things that interest you, like the date, the species and the sex of the bird, and even have fun developing a behavior guide.
4. Find a place to watch the sunrise and/or the sunset and schedule one day a week to go there without any distractions.
There is something momentous about the sun rising and setting. More than just the colours, it's a natural milestone in the day, and finding a place to witness that is always an adventure.
5. Contact your local nature conservancy office and sign up for their next educational activity.
Many conservancies and nature reserves offer guided walks, exhibits or guest talks which make for epic days out. Contact your nearest one and find out when they offer any public events. It’s a great way to connect with nature and meet other like-minded people along the way.
6. Go snorkeling in a rock pool and try to identify the different species of fish and other animals you find.
We often overlook the biodiversity exists in something as small as a rock pool, yet life in these little ecosystems are vibrant and fascinating. Visiting the pool over and over will also give you an appreciation for how things can change over time, as well as which fish and animal species are residents, and which ones have simply washed in with the tide.
7. Find a waterfall near you and get some friends together to hike to it.
There is something mesmerizing about watching a waterfall. Whether it’s a large river that plummets over a ledge in dramatic fashion, or a small trickle that slowly meanders its way down a rock face, one can be entranced by these waterflows for hours. It’s a great way to sit peacefully and gather your thoughts and it sure beats watching TV.
8. Cook a meal outside on an open fire.
Cooking a meal outside can be extremely rewarding. Not only is there the satisfaction of making a delicious dish over the coals, but the process of making the fire and spending the time outdoors is also a fantastic way to feel that connection to nature we all love. Here’s a delicious meat stew recipe for you to try.
9. Give frogging a go.
Frogging is a pastime dedicated to finding and identifying frogs. The great thing about frogs is that there are many species that you can find in your neighbourhood and garden. There are also hundreds of species with different colours, sounds and behaviours making them very interesting creatures to observe. What’s more, setting out in search of them will put you right into nature and help you maintain that connection with nature you’ve been craving.
10. Download a star app and go star gazing.
There are some incredible stargazing apps that you can download and use on your phone to locate and identify constellations, planets and even galaxies. Set a goal of learning at least one new constellation per week and learn how to identify it on your own. Remember, the night sky changes over time, so there will be new constellations to discover as the seasons change.
11. Visit your local nursery and buy an indigenous plant for your garden.
There are few activities that give you a greater connection with nature than planting and caring for an indigenous plant. Not only will you literally get your hands dirty planting the seeds and saplings but tending for the plant will give you plenty of reasons to go outside often to keep an eye on things. Better still, try to find one that will attract butterflies and moths or birds to your garden and turn your home into a nature haven.
12. Put out a nesting box for birds in your area.
Do a little research to find out which birds nest in your area and what kinds of nesting boxes would best suit them. Attracting a breeding pair into your garden is a surefire way to give you a connection with nature, especially as you watch the hatchlings grow day by day.
13. Learn to start a fire without matches.
Like water, fire is an element that can hold us transfixed for hours. Learning how to start a fire without any modern conveniences is a good way to help you connect with this raw and basic element.
14. Find a “sit spot” in a natural setting nearby.
A “sit spot” is exactly what the name suggests – a place in a natural setting (like a park, a nature reserve, a conservancy, etc.) where you can simply sit and be among nature. Schedule in at least one hour per week to go there and just see what you see.
15. Learn how to track animals.
Your garden is a great place to start! There are loads of critters that call your garden home and learning to spot and identify their spoor can help you to gain a greater perspective of the role your own garden (and by extension, you) play in the natural world within your neighbourhood.
16. Make a piece of nature art.
Either use a natural subject as your inspiration, or even as your medium for creating something that will connect you to the natural world.
17. Listen to soundtracks of natural settings while you work or when you relax.
Gentle river streams, the wind through the trees, waves lapping up on the shore…Listening to these sounds as you work is a great way to keep stress at bay and feel a connection with nature in your workplace.
18. Make a bird feeder for your garden to attract local birds.
You can buy one from your local hardware or pet store, or even make one yourself. Attracting birds to your garden and listening to them call throughout the day is an awesome reward for your effort.
19. Read a biography about a nature conservationist or naturalist.
There’s nothing more inspiring than a good story, and some of the best stories come from those who sought to make a difference in the natural world. Our founder Dr. Ian Player was one such person and reading some of his accounts of Project Rhino is enough to inspire any nature lover
20. Do a field guiding course like FGASA level 1.
One of the best ways to maintain a connection with nature is to be more aware of it, and that is exactly what a field guiding course will help you to do. Check out some of our FGASA accredited courses here.
21. Climb a tree.
One of the purest and simplest forms of contact with nature one can do – and who doesn’t like to climb a tree?
22. Advocate for the natural spaces in your area by using and maintaining them.
Natural spaces survive when they are perceived to be valuable and one of the best ways to show that something is valuable is to use it. Make use of your local parks and green spaces and get your neighbours involved in initiatives to clean and maintain them so that their value is understood by everyone in the community.
23. Learn to identify the trees in your garden in all the stages of their life, and in all seasons.
While the trees and plants in our gardens don’t move around a lot, that doesn’t mean they don’t change a lot, and being aware of these changes by learning to identify their life and seasonal cycles will help you to understand them more.
24. Learn how to distill and filter water naturally.
Water can be collected and distilled in several ways, from solar stills that remove the salt from seawater to condensation bags that draw water from plants. Knowing how to get drinking water is a great survival skill and one that gives you a real appreciation for our reliance on this basic element of life.
25. Build an outdoor shower, and bathe under the stars.
Turn bath time into an excuse to get outside and connect with nature by building an outdoor shower. You’ll need to put up a screen to conceal yourself from snooping neighbours, but make sure there is an open top for you to gaze up at the night sky while you shower.