The arrival of spring and the promise of longer days has been celebrated for millennia. Our connection with the seasons is ancient and tribal, and the way that we usually congregate, dance and celebrate this time of rebirth was different this year as is was to last.
But this spring equinox there is hope in the air; a sense of looking forward with promises of a summer of socialising, celebration and, I'm certain, a whole lot of gratitude. Just as nature shrugs off the desolation of winter to for the fertility of spring flowers, we are beginning to make plans come out of hiding later in the year, to plant ourselves firmly back into the world. A rebirth like no other.
For now though, we must wait patiently and appreciate the benefits to this slower pace of life. To let your mind race towards the future, no matter how bright it may look, is still a distraction from the here and now. Here are some ways to stay present during your time in nature, whether it's a big family walk or a quiet stroll by yourself.
Stay grounded with in nature
'Forest bathing' is a form of ecotherapy that supports the positive physiological effects of being in nature, as well as benefiting mental. The concept that being in nature is good for us is not a new one, but to be mindful on our daily walks is easier said than done. It is all too easy to get lost in thought and worry just as much as if we were sat on the sofa.
Look up and take in what's around you; breathe in the smells of wet grass, pine needles or new flowers. Let your mind wonder over a carpet of bluebells or a pair of scampering squirrels. Take comfort in the simplicity and slowness of nature, and allow it to ground you in the moment, pulling you back from a mental whirlwind of thoughts.
Spending time outside provides a great opportunity to put your headphones in and put on a podcast or an upbeat playlist. But in doing so, we shut off one of our key senses to the world around us. Try unplugging for your time in nature, and notice how it connects you to the sounds around you. We tend to see the need for constant stimulation, and are using technology for more hours of the day than we'd care to admit. By listening to the sounds of nature, your mind has a chance to tap into a primal, almost meditative state. Notice the birds, the rustling, the wind, and the people talking as they walk by. You may find that a bit of peace and quiet was exactly what your brain needed.
Not everyone lives close enough to somewhere abundant with plants to forage (here's a link that lists London's abundant parks for all you city dwellers), but there is almost always something edible growing wherever you choose to spend time in nature. Foraging is a great way to understand the natural world, and the act of scanning bushes, hedgerows and the undergrowth for something edible is both rewarding and mindful.
Spring is one of the most abundant times of the year when it comes to wild food, so getting familiar with the free plants that grow around you is a great way to make use of time spent outside, as well as to connect with nature.
You should always research any plants that you are wish to pick and eat, and if you're unsure as to whether something is edible then check with a professional first. Even the friendliest-looking plants can be deceiving and it's never worth the risk. Here's a good beginner's guide to foraging in March.