How often do you pause in the middle of your day and look out of the window? This tiny action can change your mood and brighten up your day. According to researchers at the Human Interaction with Nature and Technological Systems Lab of the University of Washington looking at nature can have a positive impact on minor stress levels. Yes, purposefully and mindfully gazing at the natural worlds for 30 seconds each day can improve our wellbeing.
However, nothing can beat the benefits of a stroll in the woods. According to National Geographic, trees, in particular, inspire us, comfort us, and remind us how life moves on. They have long been seen as powerful symbols of growth, death and rebirth, linked to meditation, spirituality and healing. Like us, they follow seasonal rhythms, adapting and changing to their environment.
Not convinced, yet?
Whilst designing landscapes, gardens and woodlands, Sarah Spencer the author of ‘Think Like A Tree’ realised that the same principles that make natural ecosystems so successful and enduring could be applied to our own lives.
All living things share natural principles that allow them to grow, stay healthy, be adaptable, develop resilience, become connected and pass on what they’ve learned – she said-. So if we can learn to access the wisdom of the forest we can live happier, healthier and more productive lives ourselves.
The principles described in her book are taken from permaculture, a nature-inspired design system, and biomimicry, which uses nature to design products and find technical solutions.
I’m guided by the natural principles every day. They are really easy to follow, you can observe them in your immediate surroundings and you interpret them in the way that’s relevant to you. Anyone can do it! If you see a dandelion pushing through the cracks in the pavement it has something to teach you about resilience and determination. A tree that harbours an ecosystem of insects and birds can teach us a lot about developing co-operative relationships.
‘Think Like A Tree’ came into being following her own struggles. Sarah lives with a rare chronic illness, and in 2015 she was confined to bed and in a wheelchair. She turned to the principles she observed around her in nature to design her way back to health. Her journey has now lead her to share her insights to help others via ‘Think like a Tree’ online courses and workshops, supporting adults and children.
Next time you feel being stuck in a dead-lock think for the future: every tree that has ever lived has contributed to the creation of the soil and the abundance of our planet, so never think your own actions can’t change the world. Just make sure it’s in a positive way.
We are living in challenging times and we all need to build our resilience in order to weather the problems that we’re facing, and those to come – Sarah explains-. We must develop the strength not only to bounce back, but in the process to create a better place to bounce back to. Think of the forests of giant redwoods that stood before the Alps or the Rocky Mountains existed. They didn’t survive without standing tall and carrying on, adapting and thriving and making the most of new opportunities.