• Jenny Stallard

Three Freelance Things... you can do to get closer to nature

As freelancers - especially in the past year - we spend a lot of time indoors. You'd think that with the flexibility we have, we'd be outside all the time, taking in fresh air and feeling the grass/sand/soil beneath our feet.

But I know many of us sit at desks or tables, working away, staring more at a computer or phone screen than the view of hills, fields or the sea, forgetting we can use nature to help our wellbeing and even our work.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and the theme is all around nature. The Mental Health Foundation, which runs the week, says on its website: "This year we want people to notice nature and try to make a habit of connecting to the nature every day. Stop to listen to the birdsong, smell the freshly cut grass, take care of a house plant, notice any trees, flowers or animals nearby. Take a moment to appreciate these connections."

So what can we do as freelancers to make sure we connect with nature, and bring some balance into our freelance lives?

This is the first of a series I'm going to write called 'Three Freelance Things'. Tips and advice for the self-employed, always three things. So today's, with the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week in mind, is 'Three Freelance Things... you can do to get closer to nature'.

1) Go for a nature ramble. Not just a stroll, which as you know if you follow Freelance Feels on Instagram, I am a big fan of. But on your walk really try and connect with nature. Touch things (leaves, flowers), smell things, stop and notice the sights, sounds and smells. Don't be in a hurry to get from A to B. Instead, make it all about the nature.

If you're in an urban area, and not sure there's much nature around, I have two suggestions. One is to find somewhere to go to that's a nature-focused place. The Wetlands in East London, for example, or a local park, nature reserve or even stately home with gardens. Or, start to really look at how nature gets in, even through concrete or walls. Look out for birds, or people's gardens.

If you regularly walk in nature, try a new route or a different path. To stay connected with the theme, either take some pictures of the nature you see or set a target to see certain things - a flower, a bird, a bee... I've done this and uploaded to instagram and was so pleased as I even managed to photograph a blackbird!

As a freelancer I find some of my best ideas come together when I'm having a walk, away from the desk. The clarity comes when I'm not trying to force it. I paused writing this post to take the dogs out and think through what I was writing, it's helped me come back refreshed before I load it.

See what happens for you after you've disconnected from the screen and connected with your nature ramble. And, if you take photos, feel free to tag me on Instagram, @freelance_feels

2) Houseplants! Nature doesn't have to be outdoors. Houseplants are a fantastic way to connect with the natural world. If you have them, take some time to see how they're doing. Do they need repotting, watering, dusting, even? You could give them all a bath - literally! (I sometimes put houseplants in the bath and run the shower over them - as if it's raining). If you don't have houseplants, make this week the week you invest. Rebecca Seal talks about the power of houseplants for solo working in her episode of the Freelance Feels podcast.

3) Nature in your self care. Can you incorporate nature into your self care routine to bring more balance to your freelance life? Lots of fitness classes are outdoors at the moment - for example, my good friend Rebecca at WildFlower Yoga practices Alpaca Yoga! There is yoga on the lawn at my local lido (outdoor swimming is another amazing way to connect, and it doesn't have to be wild, there are lots of lidos around the country).

You could take your yoga mat outside to the garden if you have one. Feel the grass between your toes as you stretch. Or bring nature into your cleansing routine - lovely naturally fragranced bath oils, shower gel or essential oils in a burner or diffuser on your desk. Try a herbal or fresh tea to get some nature in your system, and of course eating healthily is another way - fruit and veg is nature on a plate!

How do you bring nature into your freelance work?

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