Spending time outside has many health benefits, including reducing stress and improving sleep. However, even if being outdoors is your favorite thing to do, it can be challenging to find the time to really relax and soak up all that nature has to offer.
One of the best ways to get more outside time is to change your expectations. There’s more to see and enjoy than you may think right where you live. Here are 10 tips for enjoying nature in your own backyard.
1. Find A Sit-Spot
Many urban nature lovers start by finding a spot to sit and observe nature day after day. This could be a seat on your back porch, a shady bench under a tree, or anywhere else where you have a good view and feel comfortable. The more you visit this area, the more aware you’ll become of what’s around you.
2. Research Your Area
Do you know what trees grow in your area? Can you identify the birds you hear? Learning more about your surroundings is another great way to enjoy nature daily. Set goals for yourself, and make it fun. Take field guides outside with you to make the most of your experiences.
3. Take Photos
When you take a picture, you choose to focus on one detail or angle and block out the rest of the world. Photography can help you build awareness of what is happening all around you. It’s also a great way to document your outdoor adventures and notice changes in the environment.
4. Create Triggers
If you’re struggling to notice nature on a daily basis, try creating triggers for yourself. For example, you could train yourself to pause and pay attention every time you hear birdsong. You could also practice observing your yard on the way to your car in the morning. After a while, paying attention will start to come naturally.
5. Attract Wildlife
There are many ways to support and attract animals to your yard if you’re interested in seeing more wildlife. For example, you could build a bird feeder or nesting box outside a prominent window. Water, food and shelter will attract animals looking for a place to live. Do what you can to meet their needs, and watch your backyard come alive.
6. Get A Trail Camera
Unfortunately, many animals are shy or only come out at night. Invest in a trail camera if you’d like to know how many critters live nearby. Turn it on at night while you’re sleeping, and then investigate the results in the morning. You may be surprised to realize how many neighbors you really have.
7. Stay Green
You must eliminate any pesticides or other substances that could harm natural visitors if you want to experience and enjoy more nature in your yard. Restoring the safety of your natural habitat so it has healthy soil, water and air is even better. You can also consider volunteering to care for the environment near your home.
8. Grow Plants
You can grow your own greenery with very little space. Plants grow best on a sunny southern slope, but you can add pots to your porch, build a window box or plant a hedge along the front of your home. This will teach you more about them than reading ever can.
9. Watch The Clouds
Slowing down is one of the most valuable aspects of nature watching. Although it may be difficult for you to do at first, this time isn’t wasted. Rest and reflection give you time to process life and become comfortable with yourself. A great way to practice this slowness is to simply lie down and watch the clouds drift by. Revisit your childhood and pick out shapes for an immersive experience.
10. Hug A Tree
Wait until no one’s around and try hugging a tree. Spending time in the woods has health benefits, and some research suggests that even looking at a tree can reduce stress and boost your health. You can always plant one if your yard is bare. This sturdy friend will support all kinds of wildlife and beautify your lawn.
Take Time Outside Seriously
Spending time in your backyard will give you a new appreciation for protected wild places and teach you the skills you need to connect with nature. Use these 10 tips to start enjoying the world that exists right outside your door and encourage nature in your own backyard.
Jane is an environmental writer and the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she covers sustainability and eco-friendly living.