Do you ever find your days passing you by in a blur of noise, notifications, and neon? Do you barely see your loved ones? Stuff a sandwich down your throat at lunchtime, and then stare out of your classroom or office window wishing you were somewhere else? Does your wellbeing suffer?
If so, don’t worry; we’ve all been there. But when you stare out of the window, where do you go? Do you envision the mall or traffic… or do you envision a sandy white beach, where you lie in a bikini watching the waves crash whilst simultaneously being fed strawberries by Jason Momoa?
While your daydream fantasies might seem a bit far-fetched (sorry, imaginary Jason), they could represent a longing for a much more basic desire: the need to get back to nature.
Here are some ways to reconnect to the world around you and improve your wellbeing.
1. Put birdseed out.
While this might seem like almost a passive action, it doesn’t have to be. Sprinkle out the seed in a place that’s nearby, then find a comfy seat and wait and watch for the diners to arrive. Then, if the birds start making themselves known, make a note of the ones you see. That way, you can educate yourself about what birds live in your area at the same time, and who knows, you might even spot a rare one!
2. Go for a walk and pay attention to the things you see.
This activity enables you to truly take note of the things that you don’t notice when you’re busy. Start walking – it doesn’t matter where – and pay close attention to the details. Is there a particularly beautiful plant in a neighbor’s garden? Does a tree have odd-shaped leaves or striking colors? If you’re in an urban environment, is there interesting graffiti? Does the light dance on a building in a unique way?
3. Go outside and close your eyes for thirty seconds, and just listen.
This is a good exercise for when you simply don’t have much time to spare but want to improve your wellbeing. By closing your eyes however, you’re closing off one of your strongest senses: sight, a sense which can so often rule our decision-making and judgements. Hence, by closing your eyes, you’re cutting yourself off from the everyday chaos of visual input and focussing more on the one-of-a-kind symphony that each sound contributes to. Looking at the bigger picture is good, but sometimes it’s calming to focus on the details too.
4. Look outside your window and make a list of all the colors you can see.
When you spend every day sitting at a computer, it’s easy to see the world as overwhelmingly grey. However, look outside for a moment and you’ll realize that that is simply not the case. By noting all the colors you can see, you’ll soon see that the world is rich and vivid, even when your surroundings may seem dull or unextraordinary.
5. Listen to your heartbeat whilst thinking about the fact that every other creature has one too.
There’s nothing like a quick exercise in sonder to make you extremely thankful for the life you have. First coined in 2012 by John Koenig, Wiktionary describes the term as ‘the profound feeling of realizing that everyone, including strangers passed in the street, has a life as complex as one’s own, which they are constantly living despite one’s personal lack of awareness of it.’ Put simply: even if you don’t understand or know what might be going on in the life of a fellow living creature, they are still alive, with a life just as complex as yours. Reflect on this and begin to feel yourself become connected with all the living things you share the earth with.
At the end of the day, nothing will completely stop our busy, 21st-century lives. We will always have appointments to go to, friends to call, and Funkos to collect too. However, if we just take stock once in a while, and remind ourselves that we are a part of this planet, then we might find ourselves in a calmer and happier state of mind and wellbeing.