The more we're distracted by our phones and technology, humans can become increasingly disconnected with nature. Many of us are sitting for long periods of time inside air-conditioned rooms, and in front of multiple screens. This inactivity can cause real effects on the body and even begin to affect the relationships around us. When it comes to long-term relationships especially, it can be easy to fall into a routine, or a "rut" that causes feelings of boredom.
Luckily a change in season, especially the fall, can be an ideal time to reconnect with nature and your partner at the same time. Let's talk about the benefits of reconnecting with nature and your loved one for a happier, sunnier disposition.
Reconnecting with nature doesn’t have to include a month-long retreat, or surviving the wilderness with nothing but a knife and compass; it can be a simple afternoon walk. Instead of hunkering down for yet another episode of that show you've already seen, suggest a walk around your neighborhood or a nearby park. First, make sure to leave the cell phone and headphones at home or in the car. When you arrive at your destination, you may choose to hold hands, or not. Whatever feels right with your partner. Instead of talking about mundane daily chores or errands, simply listen to the sounds around you. Take in the crunch of leaves on the ground or the rustle of the trees. Are there birds chirping? Take note of your breathing. Resist the temptation to become consumed with inner thoughts. Instead, focus on your natural surroundings.
Walking not only boosts endorphins in the body, but this "mindful listening" partner activity is actually a Buddhist technique, cultivating mindfulness and appreciation. While it may seem like an easy exercise, practicing mindful listening outdoors can be tricky. We're often lost in thought or distracted by our cell phones. By allowing ourselves to listen to what's going on around us, we form a stronger connection with the outdoors.
This technique can have great relationship benefits too. You can foster a deeper connection with your partner when you hone in on their words when talking, or even arguing. Giving away your full attention may seem like a big ask; however, it’ll be appreciated by your partner and you can begin to have more meaningful conversations.
Growing with the Season
Gardening may seem like a slow and unexciting hobby to some, however, sustaining a garden is an involved process that can bring you very close to nature. Fall is also one of the best seasons to begin planting flowers and vegetables if you’re in a milder climate. From lettuce to radishes to daffodils, there’s a wide variety of plants available to start a small garden. The mind-body connection you formulate while gardening is strengthened when working the soil, watering, trimming, and pruning. You’ll be able to enjoy the tranquility of nature while stimulating all of your senses.
Gardening as a couple can also help strengthen relationships. It allows you and your partner to share a hobby together. You’ll have something different to discuss each day, while sharing the responsibility. It can boost feelings of being committed to each other and the success of the garden. Watching life grow often fills people with optimism for the future.
There are statistics pointing to the effects of technology on relationships. 1 in 10 people has argued with a partner about their excessive technology use. 1 in 4 believe their partner is too distracted with their cell phone. Due to the prevalence of technology and mobile devices on our society, it’s not a surprise that technology causes distraction, emotional distance and tension among couples. Technology also keeps us indoors for long periods of time causing further isolation. In order to grow closer to the world outside and our partner without technology, curtailing its use is can be a great solution. In-person communication and emotional connections are strengthened through touch, facial expressions, voice and body language. If one is constantly distracted by streaming, scrolling, emailing, it becomes nearly impossible to focus on who’s right in front of you.
Power-down the cell phone, the TV, and the laptop, and head to a wooded area, or park, or anywhere outside where you can disconnect from technology. Whether it’s swimming in a lake, or hiking in the mountains, immersing oneself in nature can have positive mental and physical effects. When it comes to physical effects, studies have shown that disconnecting from mobile devices to spend time outdoors can help improve short-term memory, reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and boost the immune system. It can also assist in lowering anxiety, mental exhaustion, and depression. Ditching tech for hours in a day can make a person happier, more energized and healthier. The combination of this can tremendously improve the emotional and physical intimacy levels in a relationship.
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