Nature is medicine. This wisdom holds even if you aren’t an herbalist. Research shows that even gazing at pictures of gorgeous outdoor scenes has the power to reduce stress and anxiety while supercharging your productivity.
What makes Mother Nature the best doctor of all is that she works on your mental and physical health.
Here are nine nature-based hobbies that have helped me improve my outlook on life — I hope they can make you feel better, too.
1. Weekend Hikes
If all you gaze upon all week are the straight, regular lines of urban landscapes, a change of scenery can alter your mental state and make you feel more relaxed. I live in the city, so taking the time to get out for hikes has been invaluable for my mood.
Be sure to follow safety tips when participating in this activity to keep it a fun and healthy way to improve your outlook on life. Always tell someone where you are going and what time you anticipate returning. I like to take a friend if I can. Wear sturdy shoes and carry plenty of water and snacks. It’s also wise to take just-in-case items, like a paracord bracelet with a built-in compass in case you get off-course.
Do you want to sculpt strong shoulders while improving your outlook? If so, kayaking might be the ultimate nature-based hobby for you.
Research indicates that people who live close to the water experience fewer feelings of stress and anxiety. Plus, the challenge kayaking entails can bolster your self-confidence. Navigating my way through challenging rapid has made me feel more equipped to tackle anything else life throws at me.
You might not think of golf as nature-based — or relaxing. However, it’s both!
To get the most out of this activity, make it more mindful than competitive. Instead of focusing on how I sliced my ball into the rough — again — I concentrate on the texture of the grass under my feet and the sun on my skin. Take time to soak in the view. Most golf courses offer gorgeous landscaping that more than justifies the greens fees, even if you can’t shoot par to save your life.
4. Daily Walks
You don’t have to go far to enjoy the healing power of nature — merely lace up your walking shoes! Walking is a free form of getting outdoors and moving, and I’ve found it can instantly improve my mental outlook. Plenty of research indicates that people who exercise regularly improve their emotional well-being and overall mental health. Walking increases blood flow to your brain, helping you dust off the cobwebs and feel more alert. It also stimulates the flow of juicy, feel-good endorphins, natural chemicals that help you feel happier and move more pain-free.
Did you miss out on the pandemic gardening craze? You can start this wholesome hobby any time — learn how to save the seeds from the produce you buy if you find shortages at your nursery.
Gardening gets you in the great outdoors while keeping you close to home. Nurturing a sprout from a seed qualifies as a mindful activity, as does hoeing and raking if you focus on the moment while performing your labor. This activity comes with a built-in bonus: fresh, organic produce!
6. Equestrian Work
You don’t have to be among the elite to harness the power of equestrian therapy to improve your outlook on life. I’ve found volunteer opportunities at local stables to get close to the horses.
If you can establish an arrangement that lets you ride, I’ve found this activity has helped particularly with improving my self-esteem. It takes incredible strength to control an animal several times larger than yourself!
However, you don’t have to saddle up to reap the benefits. Merely working in the fresh air with nonjudgmental animal friends can improve your outlook.
7. Rock Collecting
If you live by the beach, you might change this suggestion to seashells. However, you can find interesting stones and minerals anywhere in the world you call home.
This activity can also help you flex your mental muscles. Can you learn to identify the various types of quartz you encounter? Do you believe in the healing power of crystals and gemstones? What kind of vibrations do you get from those that catch your eye?
8. Floral Crafts
Do you love working with growing things? Imagine passing a sunny afternoon on your patio assembling a new wreath full of garden blooms to decorate your front door.
This nature-based hobby can enhance the resale value of your home, too. For example, could you add some window boxes to improve your curb appeal? You can assemble colorful urns to highlight your front and garage doors, too!
You might think of yoga as an activity you can only do in a studio, but this practice has its basis in antiquity and works anywhere — especially outdoors.
If you have participated in the same routine for a while, try switching it up by taking your mat outdoors. Any flat space will do, although you might have to modify some moves if you feel insecure balancing on rocks. Depending on the temperature and humidity, you might even replicate the environment of a hot yoga class, sweating out toxins while increasing your flexibility.
Let These 9 Nature-Based Hobbies Improve Your Outlook on Life, Too
The nine nature-based hobbies above have significantly increased my overall enjoyment in life. I hope these activities will likewise beautify your outlook!
Mia Barnes is a health and wellness journalist with a focus on mental health and chronic pain issues. She is the Editor in Chief at Body+Mind.
Image courtesy of Taryn Elliot.