For those of us living in less urban areas, we are fortunate that when we need to feel better, many of us take a walk in nature. It’s an instinctive act. Whether it be a park or field, we refresh ourselves in the outdoors, get some air and feel part of something bigger, more expansive than our immediate worlds. Whilst outdoors, we are distracted from our day to day and notice the flora and fauna around us.
Nature is not ‘that lovely place over there’ which we can pick up and drop. The failing human relationship with nature, this notion that we are separate, is part of our environmental crises.
Nature connectedness is a psychological concept that measures “closeness of an individual’s relationship with other species and the wild world”, which has been described as a tangible target for us all to sustain our future existence.
We are nature.
To be outdoors is to return to our roots. To our fundamental needs as humans; to feel connected. Our nervous systems calms and we foster a sense of peace and belonging – the foundations of a balanced mind and positive mental health.
During the pandemic, the desire to be outside was heightened tenfold and offered just that, respite and restoration to those who were privileged to be able to get out. Walking, hiking increased, yet open water swimming seemed to be the main draw to being in nature, purely for the accessibility, as fundamentally not much is required. Most people have a towel and a swimsuit.
Wild swimming is not just emerging yourself in nature, it takes it to another level. As Gilly McArthur described in We Move podcast “it’s a sharp present moment experience that is really potent. It is a super fuel, it is a quick yet long lasting impact of grounding experience.” Her work in the field as a swimming instructor, is led purely in terms of the benefits rather than competitiveness of a sport.
“It’s a sharp present moment experience that is really potent. It is a super fuel, it is a quick yet long lasting impact of grounding experience.”
Wild swimming is the most expansive in terms of immersive and holistic activity. The water so cold, your mind cannot wander much. The focus is pointedly so, much like a reset button. One’s attention only on breathing before relaxing into a state of calm. A profound sense of peace, with an opportunity to absorb the beauty that surrounds you.
To notice from a place of peace and serenity, is to truly see. A way of being. Mental wellbeing or as we prefer to reframe it as; mind wellbeing.
The next challenge faced is how brands can support this route to remembering our relationship with nature, a route to mind wellbeing. Yes, a relationship. It’s reciprocal, we must honour it and give back, take only what we need and leave no trace. Brands have the responsibility to lead the way. The goal is to align with natures cycles, adopt ways of working to seasonality. Living by the season puts us in sync with nature and bring a more simple way of being.
In turn, it allows this adopted nature connected experience to permeate through brand to those with less access to biodiverse areas and the concepts of being in nature. To nurture and celebrate the relationship we have with nature. To celebrate the relationships we have with ourselves and each other. Deep connection to nature teaches us awareness and compassion, for ourselves but other beings; ultimately the planet.