The idea of spring is deeply connected within every one of us. It’s a time of new life, possibilities and happy activity. We ‘spring forward’ as the clocks change, spring-clean our homes and get a spring in our step – yet it’s possible to do all this without actually pausing to feel the surge of the most energetic season in the natural world. In an over- complicated modern environment, time spent outdoors, with nature and in fresh air, is a vital antidote to traffic, technology and endless demands on our time.
As a gardener for Weleda I could not imagine my life without being outdoors, immersed in all that surrounds me. While I work I can listen to bird calls, hear the rush of wind in the trees, watch the sky for signs of changing weather and see our plants bloom and grow in good health. I am very lucky indeed and my soul benefits – but you don’t have to be a gardener to feel the deep reward of the great outdoors, and what better time than in the spring when our countryside begins anew?
Even a short walk in your favourite landscape can clear away mental fog and calm the mind. Physical acts like walking, running or cycling reunite body and spirit, bringing clarity and awareness of your surroundings. Being physically active while breathing clean air and seeing wide vistas can help us to reach important decisions or to forget about troubles at work or at home.
If you aren’t keen on physical activity, or aren’t able to move so freely, stillness in the natural world offers the opportunity to quiet the mind. The contemplative pleasure of a seat beside a river, or a view from a hilltop, allows your eyes to relax and absorb nature’s colour. All the worries and tensions that you’re holding fall away and you have the chance to remember your place on this precious planet.
Whether you like to be active or still, to spend time outdoors is to welcome simplicity back into your life. In my opinion, we humans are not meant to distance ourselves from nature, because it’s the environment in which we evolved. Studies which show time outside as vital to mental wellbeing don’t surprise me – what does surprise me is that we have to be reminded by scientific results!
Time outside helps with mental and emotional health, and with physical health too. Vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin, is extremely beneficial to bone health and good immunity – and in our country we’re chronically short of that natural boost. The plants that grow at this time of season nourish us after a winter of stodge and sugar. There’s wild bounty such as nettle soup – a marvellous spring tonic, full of iron and other important minerals. Other spring plants such as chickweed, wild garlic and Jack-in-the-hedge – related to both garlic and mustard – are great additions to fresh leaf salads, while tree saps like birch are there to help replenish you after a long winter.
In these ways nature stands ready to offer us all kinds of abundance and support. She waits quietly for us to hear her call – to get outside, engage with the natural world, and feel the stirring effect of spring on our emotional wellbeing.