Writing by Freya Bennett // Photographs by Agus Cabaleiro
As a child, I spent a lot of time alone outdoors. It wasn’t exactly deep in the jungle or on an abandoned stretch of beach, but it made me feel calm and connected with the world so I count it as time spent alone in nature.
We lived in a country town so we had a decent backyard with plenty of trees, rocks and (probably) snakes. I was able to wander off and explore my little neighbourhood, climb trees with other neighbour kids and slowly wander home alone, while perhaps taking the dirt road less traveled.
It’s much harder these days to get away with wandering in nature. We have so much technology to distract us, so many projects to keep us busy and much more fear of ‘stranger danger’. I feel we have lost a really important bond we need and that is the bond we have with nature. I can easily get wrapped up in the cyber world and completely forget that the real world is just at my fingertips.
I am someone who experiences a lot of anxiety in daily life. I definitely feel some amount of fear and worry every day and I believe the more I log on, the more my mental health logs off. We lose touch with our own minds and bodies the more we log on so it goes without saying that we lose touch with nature too.
As soon as I re-establish my relationship with nature, I feel a lot of my anxiety drift away. It’s as simple as heading outside for a short walk and really being present in nature. I live inner city Melbourne, but am lucky enough to have a giant park outside my apartment block. If I am feeling anxious, depressed or generally just blah, I try to head out to the park, to wander slowly and really take in the green.
On planned days I love going to the beach. You can’t take your phone into the ocean and the peace and tranquility that I feel when submerged in water cannot be beaten by anything.
So below, I have compiled a list on How To Be Alone In Nature:
1. Go outside.
Even if it’s just a walk around the block, try and take in the sky, the trees and the plants. Stop to smell the roses and it really does make you feel good.
2. Plan some time to look at the clouds.
Give yourself half an hour a day to lie on some grass and look at the sky. We all have done this as kids but we rarely make time as adults. Leunig has a great cartoon and I can’t say it any better than he. “My device is the sky.”
3. Put your feet on the ground.
Take your shoes off and put your feet on the grass. It sounds simple, but when was the last time you did this? It can take your mind from over thinking to present within a few seconds.
4. Plan a trip to the country.
Plan a trip alone, whether you drive or not. Find somewhere that is beautiful, safe and abundant. I like to go to the beach and swim alone, as long as I know there are people nearby, I can relax and enjoy myself. You might like to go to a national park for a walk, hike up a mountain or a swim in a river, the possibilities are endless, just make sure people know where you are, that you are nearby to other people and you have a phone on you (but not in front of you.)
5. Get some nature into your home!
I have a bit of an obsession with terrariums and have currently got five dotted around my flat. If you’re feeling stressed in the home but can’t leave because of study, homework, illness or weather, having a bit of nature in your space can really make the difference. Whether a plant, shells, crystals, terrariums or sand, something that you can touch/smell/gaze into can really makes you feel good.
It’s always important to remember, we wouldn’t be here without nature. Trees literally let us breathe. So it’s only natural that spending time in nature will make us feel good.
Part 3 of How To Be Alone coming soon.