The benefits of spending time in nature are plentiful.
From improved immune function to increased memory retention to boosted happiness, nature is in many ways our solace.
But how can we enjoy the outdoors from inside our homes? Here are a few tips for staying connected to nature, no matter where you are.
Take in the sights and sounds
Whether you’re listening to waves lap against the shore or strolling through your local park, nature is one of life’s greatest stress relievers. But you don’t necessarily have to venture outside to benefit from the sights and sounds of nature. A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health discovered that simply looking at nature images helped participants to reduce stress by activating their parasympathetic nervous systems, which helps us to slow our heart rates and feel more calm.
Similarly, researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School monitored the brain activity and automatic nervous system activity of participants while they listened to sounds recorded from natural and artificial environments. They found that ‘artificial sounds’ were more closely linked to states of anxiety while ‘natural sounds’ were more closely linked to states of relaxation, especially for participants with high stress levels.
Of course, the benefits of looking at and listening to nature cannot compare to truly immersing yourself in the outdoors. But when you must spend time indoors or close to home, why not surround yourself with as many of the sights and sounds of nature as possible.
Perhaps you can achieve this by simply going for a walk or sitting on your balcony; or maybe it means enjoying nature photography, listening to ocean sounds online, or making a nature collage with your kids. Either way, try to find a way to treat your eyes and ears to the joys of nature.
Explore your backyard with iNaturalist
You don’t always have to visit a forest or field to discover nature. How many species are living just outside your door? The free iNaturalist Canada app lets you record, share and learn about nature anywhere – even on your very own doorstep!
You can upload photos of any nature sightings – from squirrels to birds to trees – and image recognition software instantly helps you identify the species. Observations are then reviewed by experts in the iNaturalist community to help confirm the identification. While we’re all practicing physical distancing, be sure to add your observations to the Observations from Isolation project.
Not only is this a wonderful opportunity to learn about the nature that most closely surrounds you, it also makes a difference for Canada’s wildlife. With more than 2.2 million observations made to date in Canada, iNaturalist users are helping to build a living record of biodiversity across our country.
Scientists and environmental managers can use this information to monitor changes in biodiversity, and anyone can use the platform to connect with nature in Canada and learn about our amazing natural history.
So if you’re limited to going for a walk in your own backyard, why not download the iNaturalist Canada app and use this opportunity to explore the life that surrounds you.
Discover Canada’s wildlife
As Canadians, we are connected by a deep sense of pride and wonder for our natural heritage. But this means doing more than just enjoying time spent in nature – it means taking the time to understand our wild species and spaces, including the challenges they face and the ways we can help. Why not spend some of your time indoors learning about what awaits us outdoors – Canada’s inspiring wildlife, diverse landscapes and vital ecosystems.
For example, which rodent has one of the most technologically advanced defence systems in the natural world? How much do you know about the Boreal Forest, one of the world’s largest and most important forest ecosystems? Have you ever wondered about the critters who live underground? Or the species who migrate thousands of kilometres? Once we’re able to freely explore the outdoors again, this newfound knowledge will enrich your time spent in nature by giving you a greater understanding and appreciation of what surrounds you.
Experiencing nature is usually synonymous with being outside, but now is the time to get a little creative. We hope these tips help you to enjoy nature from the comfort of your home.