Feeling out of sorts is never great. Your mind may be spiraling with things to do and feelings of excitement, regret, indecisiveness, and more. If you aren’t feeling your best, you can try connecting to the four natural elements of earth, air, water, and fire, to help bring your mental health back into balance.
Your head is up in the air because you’re having thoughts that are causing anxiety, stress, and something just feels off. You may have heard someone tell you to “ground yourself,” to reduce these negative feelings, but what does this mean and how do you do it?
With the element of earth in mind, try taking off your shoes and walking outside. Focus on the sensations of the soft grass under your feet, or firmly plant your feet on the ground to feel the connection to the earth. Even taking a walk around your neighborhood can calm anxiousness. It gives you some time to become aware of your thoughts, allowing you to decrease overwhelming feelings and reduce stress by paying attention to the things in nature happening around you.
According to Frontiers in Psychiatry, specific examples of “nature-based physical activity that have shown to improve mental health include sailing, gardening, horse-riding, wilderness hiking, and running in nature.” Increase your outdoor activities by doing something fun outdoors, such as gardening or visiting an animal shelter to take a dog on a walk
The element of air represents mindfulness, focusing on your breath and meditation. Take a few moments to focus on your breath. Notice the air entering through your nose and exiting through your mouth. Breathing exercises are a great way to reduce anxiety and gain a sense of renewal.
Have you tried the 4-7-8 breathing technique? Close your eyes, breath in to the count of four. Hold your breath for 7 counts and exhale to the count of eight. Keep repeating until you feel your stress ease.
Opening your window or stepping outside to breath in fresh air has also shown to alleviate stress. Use this time to simply concentrate on your breathing and focus on something else for a few minutes other than the worrisome things that may be on your mind.
Water is soothing and calming for your body and mind and has many health benefits. Drinking water can increase your mood, help you focus, and can help decrease feelings of depression. To make sure you are staying hydrated, set a daily goal for water intake and take sips throughout the day.
Water based activities such as swimming and water aerobics, can improve overall health and well-being with less potential for harm or injury. If you don't have access to a pool, try indulging in a hot shower or bath to calm the mind and bring you into the present moment. Another way to enjoy the soothing effects of water is to visit a nearby water source and take in the tranquil sounds of the moving water.
When the sun is out, take advantage of the sunlight, making sure to use sunscreen to protect yourself from the UV rays. Sun exposure for about 8 to 10 minutes, has been shown to reflect improvement in mood and energy and has physical health benefits as well.
Sunlight enables your body to produce Vitamin D, which helps regulate your immune system and strengthen bones. Sunlight also increases melatonin levels, helping you get a better night's rest. Sauna or heat therapy are other great methods to incorporate the element of fire into your overall wellness.
But what is the easiest way to incorporate nature into everyday life? According to Acenda therapist, Juli Kreusel, LPC, “Open your windows! Get some of that elemental air in. Take a moment, like 5 minutes, to stand by a window and watch what goes on outside, there's always something natural happening."
Natures elements can help bring us back to the present moment and feel more grounded. It can also be a great way to reconnect with nature and appreciate the beauty of the world around us. Taking time to observe nature can even give us a sense of connection and peace. So, if you need a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, try spending some time outdoors!