In love with... nature
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore, There is society, where none intrudes, By the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but Nature more”
On this Valentine's Day I want to talk about my love of nature. Nature is an amazing backdrop to so many special and everyday moments in our lives. We have fun, exercise, play and meet with others outside - from parks and forests to beaches. The benefits are many; boosting our immune systems, promoting healing and well-being, and making us feel calmer, less anxious or stressed.
Children also gain the same benefits from nature with research showing that it improves children’s social interactions, helps them make friends, reduces bullying, improves problem solving skills and concentration, encourages creativity, and reduces levels of stress and depression.
Read about how spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. There are some special places for me which really make me feel alive. Here are some of them.
Some of my favourite beaches locally are Shingle Street, Bawdsey, Felixstowe, Southwold and Aldeburgh. There is nothing as calming for me as being by the sea. Watching the waves rolling and feeling insignificant by the water. I love walking the dogs on a rainy day next to the waves as well as laying on the sand in the sunshine after a paddleboard.
Water is so calming to me. Paddleboarding and swimming really help me to switch off mentally. Even getting into cold water helps me to focus and switch off from any problems. I tend to swim at the beach and paddleboard on the river.
Visiting a forest has real, quantifiable health benefits, both mental and physical. Even five minutes around trees or in green spaces may improve health. It doesn’t take a lot of time in nature for these soothing powers to kick in either. You may have felt the benefits from a short walk or hike in your neighbourhood.
Forest bathing (the Japanese process of relaxation known as shinrin yoku) by being calm and quiet amongst the trees, whilst breathing deeply to help you de-stress.
If you don't have a forest near you then parks are always good for finding some greenery.
The Magic of the Polar Night in Lapland
I've written a lot about my love of Lapland. Particularly the polar night, which happens only in the far north and south, and only during the Arctic winter. As the snow piles up, January and February offer stunning polar night and polar twilight vistas, as the blank white landscape reflects the deep warm colors of midday.
For a lot of people Lapland is not just a physical place. The Finns refer to Lapland as ‘sielunmaisema’, translation: soul’s landscape. A place in which you are deeply at home. A place where your soul belongs and you feel inner peace, happiness and connected with nature.
One of the things I am struck by in Lapland is the different colours of the day and night on the landscape. Polar nights are special for the incredible colours when there are northern lights, moonlights and of course the variations of pastel, pink moments that you cannot find anywhere else. Although there isn’t much daylight, the nights aren’t as dark as you think they would be. In fact polar nights are more special to experience the lovely arctic nature and mysterious northern landscapes.
Image: Visit Finland. Photographer Thomas Kast
What's your favourite natural place?