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Supporting psychological wellbeing through a deep connection with our natural environments


I’ve been fortunate enough to embark on an incredibly enlightening and enriching journey lately. My latest venture has led me deep into the realm of nature connectedness – a concept also known as forest bathing and Shinrin-yoku. This deepening voyage commenced with its introduction by colleague David Roland in our psychology interest and professional support group. The impact it has had on both my personal growth and professional development has really been quite profound.

At its core – or at least from what I’ve gleaned thus far – nature connectedness is a pathway that allows us to tap into the myriad psychological and physiological benefits that stem from truly immersing ourselves in natural environments by forging a genuine bond with the world around us, and in turn, encouraging us to help nature through the enhancement of our awareness and concern. Recall those instances when you’ve strolled outdoors, yet your mind was so preoccupied that the splendour around you faded into the background. Now juxtapose that with a similar walk where nature was your sole focus – each step unveiling its next wonder.

The domain of nature connectedness has provided us with a comprehensive framework to guide us in the art of genuine engagement with our surroundings. This framework encompasses the following key aspects:

Sensory Immersion (Contact): This involves really connecting with nature through our senses, or – from the melodies of birdsong and the fragrance of wildflowers to the sight of a sunset and the gentle touch of the wind.

Aesthetic Appreciation (Beauty): Delight in the aesthetic allure and beauty of nature. Be it marveling at a picturesque landscape or expressing your connection through artistic endeavors, this facet nurtures your bond with nature.

Personal Significance (Meaning): Reflect on the significance nature holds for you. Tune into the signs of nature that resonate with your spirit, such as the solstices that mark the changing seasons.

Emotional Connection (Emotion): Notice your feelings that arise from and about nature,and let your emotions flow as you ponder its influence.

Compassionate Outreach (Compassion): Extend your compassion to encompass the natural world. This empathy drives actions that safeguard nature – from mindful consumer choices to composting waste and participating in ecological restoration

The newfound awareness I’ve cultivated through this journey has significantly enriched my outdoor experiences and help me navigate the incessant chatter of my mind and be more relaxed in my down-time. What’s truly captivating is the wealth of research-backed insights that highlight the myriad benefits of really connecting with nature. However, the key takeaway is this: it’s not the quantity of time spent in nature that counts (as even short periods can yield great benefits), but rather the depth of our immersion and engagement in that time.

Interestingly enough, the rejuvenating effects of nature have been recognised for ages, yet this contemporary resurgence is a treasure trove worth exploring. And what better way to embark on this voyage than by enrolling in a free course offered by Derby University? This is the very course that I’m currently undertaking alongside my colleagues – “Nature Connectedness: Forging a New Relationship with Nature.”

Hope this helps you really enjoy and relax into your outdoor nature experiences while bringing a good dose of personal wellbeing.

Simon DuBois  is a Registered Psychologist and Clinical Director at The Health Lodge, with more than 20 years’ experience supporting people in the Byron Shire

To learn more about Simon and his offerings, click here

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