Four simple ways to connect with nature this Earth Day

Four simple ways to connect with nature this Earth Day


On Earth Day, Rebecca Frank, author of Just Add Nature: How to boost your health and happiness wherever you live, explores how connecting with nature helps to improve our physical and emotional wellbeing and encourages us to think more carefully and consciously about the natural world.

As winter gives way to spring, we often feel a strong urge to get outdoors. No matter how many times we’ve witnessed it before, we marvel at the new shoots, the cacophony of birdsong and the mood boosting effects of warm sunshine. This call to nature is no coincidence – it’s our minds and bodies telling us what we need. There’s now an abundance of scientific evidence to show us what we instinctively know – nature makes us feel better physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

In Just Add Nature I explore the many ways that nature can strengthen, heal and support our wellbeing, and suggest ideas on how to connect with nature that are accessible for all.

Here are just a few ideas that you can try wherever you live…

The wonder of water

Studies show that being close to water releases feel-good hormones, making us calm yet energised, and you don’t need to be by the coast to experience this. Many towns and cities have rivers or canals running through them and their banks and towpaths are a great place for walking. You can also find lakes and ponds in city parks and nature reserves and this dual habitat of land and water provides plenty of opportunity for wildlife spotting. For a different perspective, try getting onto the water on a kayak, paddle board or narrow boat. Whether you’re walking or drifting, take your time and pause to watch and listen to anything that catches your attention.

Have a go at growing

You don’t need a big garden, or any garden for that matter, to experience the joy and satisfaction of growing your own produce. If you’re limited with space, get creative with different types of containers and make use of balconies, window ledges, patios and roof terraces. Salad leaves are a good option for window box-sized containers - add a few edible flowers like nasturtiums or marigolds and you’ve got a great looking and tasting salad at the ready. If you regularly buy bagged salad from supermarkets, you’ll be reducing costs and plastic packaging and homegrown leaves taste so much better. Growing and nurturing a plant from seed into something you can eat is incredibly rewarding and having different plants growing inside and outside our home helps to make us feel happier and calmer. 

Take the greener route

The simplest way we can help to reduce pollution and increase our time spent outdoors in nature is to use our cars less. Every time we walk or ride a bike rather than drive, we are helping to reduce pollution in our air and waterways, decrease road congestion and danger, and improve our physical and mental wellbeing. Allow yourself a little longer to walk or cycle the greener route, noticing the trees, flowers, birds and other wildlife and you’ll be amazed at how much calmer you feel when you get to your destination. 

A lesson in gratitude

One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to start a gratitude practice is to find things in the natural world to appreciate. Research shows that practising gratitude helps us to feel happier, encourages better relationships, enables us to cope with adversity and induces positive emotions that impact our thoughts and behaviour. While it can sometimes feel hard to find new things to be grateful for each day, it’s easy to find things in nature to appreciate – the morning sun, the sound of a dawn chorus, the rain shower that rejuvenated your lawn, the cowslips painting the meadow yellow, and so on. Studies show that writing down things that you have noticed and appreciated in nature has greater benefits than more general gratitude journaling due to the increased nature connection it encourages. When we open our eyes and ears to the beauty of nature, we’ll never be short of things to feel thankful for and will be more conscious of how our behaviour can impact the natural world.


Discover more ways to increase your sense of wellbeing in Just Add Nature, the inspirational and informative guide that shows how we can all benefit from spending more time in nature.