We read blogs all the time about how to combat the blues or to enhance mental health, with access to nature being perhaps one of the top suggestions in every publication.

I have to agree that being ‘out and about’ is my personal number one mood booster, with walking Audrey on a weekend being my favourite thing to do.

When we are lucky enough to have our health we often take ‘being in nature’ for granted; for something as simple as a walk to the end of the street, a scenic bike ride or even a drive around the countryside can be enough to lift a temporary depression when you have been cooped up in the house or hospital for days, weeks and even months.

I’ve been there during hot summers when it feels like everyone is out having fun whilst I am led in bed feeling completely drained, or during the winter when pain and social anxiety are at their hardest to manage.  It’s a daily battle not to let it get you down when you feel like the world is passing you by and you forget what it feels like to hear a birds song on an afternoon stroll, to smell wildflowers on your travels or to dip your toes into the sea.

As a result this often makes said blogs and mood boosting suggestions accessible to a healthy majority, but with a very real exclusion of a struggling minority.   These publications are often only written from a viewpoint of someone who cannot appreciate the barriers to accessing nature, when you may have a chronic physical or mental health condition to consider or a limited number of daily spoons!*

Not all disabilities are visible, which means that sometimes using mobility aids or a blue badge are still not enough of a support to get someone out of the house.  Which means we have to get inventive and find ways to bring the outside in.

This got me thinking what do you do if your chronic illness stops you from accessing nature?  What on earth are you supposed to do when nature is all you crave and your preference is a natural antidepressant?

I’m a fan of the old ‘5 tips’ as it often makes an overwhelming task more manageable and means there isn’t much to sift through before finding something that works for you!

Walking Audrey through Snuff Mills today this blog idea came to me, and as a result I just had to share my top 5 tips with you all:

1 Create an Altar

On your ‘better’ days try to gather as much flora and fauna as you can from holidays, day trips or even local walks.  If you are unable to leave the house at all then ask a carer or someone else to collect items for you.

Gathering shells and pebbles from beaches, pine cones, bark and fallen leaves from the woods or even seasonal flowers and fruits from local shops are all a way of bringing the outside inside.  Creating an altar, which can be as big or as small as your surroundings will allow, is a great way to have a nature inspired focal point, a place to connect to the outdoors and invoke a temple of peace when you are stuck indoors.

Remember there is no right or wrong – create a place that is a combination of collected fresh and artificial treasures and get imaginative!  It should be a scene that evokes the thought and feeling of being in nature for you, so go with what you are drawn to in order to get the most from it.  This will be a site that you can use for meditation and Gaia connection.

2 Get wild with your decor

Decorating your room or your home with nature inspired prints, wallpapers and fabrics is another great way of feeling surrounded by nature.

Taking photos on holiday, day trips or even in your own back yard and framing them or creating scrapbooks and collages will all help to bring memories and nature to life.

You can treat yourself to some paintings or prints online that make you smile or feel as if you were amongst the scene itself.  Where possible, perhaps even get creative and paint your own wild art!

If you particularly miss travelling due to illness then get friends and loved ones to send postcards of natural wonders from around the world that you can place around your home.

3 Invite round some birds

One of the easiest ways to feel connected to nature is to witness it going about its business, freely.

Birds are fantastic to observe for they don’t take much persuading to come into your garden and can provide hours of entertainment with a perspective of the outside on rainy or difficult days.

Placing inexpensive bird feeders, baths for them to take a splash in or even adding bug hotels will send out an invite to all feathered and winged friends that you’re hosting a nature party…and they’re all invited!

There are many DIY bird, bee and bug feeding station ideas online, which can keep you further entertained and involved in helping these beauties.

4 Adopt an animal or support a wildlife charity

There are many charities out there doing great work to support the preservation of wildlife; from trees to turtles and hedgerows to hedgehogs!

Find a charity in your area or a cause that sings to your heart and support them physically on any ‘good’ days or financially from the comfort of your own home – most of them are happy with a small donation of whatever you can afford.

I joined the RSPB last year and I love getting their seasonal magazine as it is filled with beautiful photos as well as ideas of how I can encourage more birds and wildlife into my garden.  They also host The Big Garden Bird Watch each year, which is another easy way to interact with nature and runs later this month from 26th to 28th January.  You can sign up online or for a pack here

Most charities will send regular updates that include publications, photos and alike – all of which will keep you feeling connected and like you are doing your bit for nature.

5 Aroma-nature-therapy

One of the biggest stimulants of nature is the aroma’s; which if blindfolded you are likely to be able to tell whether you are by the sea or in the woods and whether it’s Spring or Winter!

Mother nature is beautiful, as are her scents.  From freshly cut grass, damp woodland, a perfumed rose garden or an earthy pine tree our natural experience is enhanced.

You can invite these smells into your home as another way of feeling like you’re amongst it.  Add this with a CD of bird song, whale calls or a guided meditation through nature and you have yourself quite the setting.

Essential oils, making your own deodorants and lotions, incense, room and aura sprays and alike are great ways to do this.  As is adding fresh flowers or scented foraged treats to your altar (step 1).

This is of course magnified if you are lucky enough to have access to a garden whereby you can create a sensory patch with clever growing and scented plant placement.

 

There are many ways in which chronic illness can still be considered when accessing nature, which is no doubt a very important tool for the Spoonie community.  This blog is aimed at sharing just some of the ways in which the physical, mental and emotional barriers can be broken down, but I appreciate that you too might have your own ways you would like to share with me.

A lot of the obstacles to accepting an illness is mind-set, and allowing ourselves to grieve for the ways in which we used to do something whilst maintaining enough positivity and hope to find new ways to replace the old.

Never stop believing that anything is possible, and please do use these tips for the days when the garden gate seems as far away as San Fran’s Golden Gate!

Yours in love and light,

 

 

*explanation of the spoon theory here

 

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