Forests for wellbeing: How to tune into nature

autumn westonbirt

How to tune into nature

We all have those times when the world feels overwhelming – our minds may be caught up thinking about the past or planning for the future. Here's some simple ways to help you tune into nature wherever you are. 

Autumn Westonbirt

Connect with nature

When we take the time to immerse ourselves in it, nature can help us to connect to our senses and bring our focus to the present moment, as Ali, a visitor to Wendover Woods, describes:

When the world fills my head, I escape to the forest. The forest makes me feel rejuvenated and connected to everything that is good, balanced and part of the cycle of life.

Ali’s experience is backed up by scientific research which shows that developing a close relationship with nature improves our psychological wellbeing. We can build our connection with nature each time we visit a forest, whilst out in our local area or even from our own homes or gardens.  

It’s surprising how easy it is to be surrounded by nature without really noticing its beauty. But if you look closely, you’ll find every colour of the rainbow! Whilst walking or sitting, look around you – how many colours can you see? Which colours draw your attention?

Did you know? Studies show that people relax and recuperate more when seeing greens or blues. Test out the theory in our virtual forest bathing gallery.

Autumn Maple Leaves
Photo credit: Paul Box

Look for the rainbow

Family taking photo in autumn

Explore more

Forests make being active feel easier and more enjoyable compared to getting active indoors. They also boost our immune system and help us to feel calm and relaxed.

Giving full attention, in a non-judgemental way, to our movement can help us get more enjoyment out of being active – and have benefits for our minds as well as our bodies! Try noticing the feeling of your body moving, perhaps you are aware of the breeze against your skin or the different textures on the ground or nearby surfaces.

Looking for inspiration? Discover more mindful ways to move in the forest including an uplifting guided forest yoga video.

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Can’t get to the forest? Allow us to bring the forest to you. Let your shoulders, neck and forehead relax as you release any tension. And as you slowly breathe in and out, imagine yourself standing among the trees.

  • As you look around your forest, what 5 things can you see?
  • Listen very carefully, what 4 things can you hear?
  • As you become more familiar with your forest, what 3 things can you feel? Is the sun warming your face? Can you feel the ground beneath your feet?
  • Taking a deep breath in through your nose, what 2 things can you smell?
  • Try to make your out-breath longer than your in-breath and as you do so pay attention to one thing you can taste. Does the air in your forest have a taste?

Be immersed in the forest: Transport yourself to the forest with our 360-degree forest videos.

Bedgebury National Pinetum Marshal's Lake autumn dark skies
Tim Smith

Bring the forest to you

family walking through forest of dean

Share the benefits

Trees are like a community, helping each other grow. They are able to exchange water and nutrients through the fungal root systems that link them underground. Like tree roots intertwining, we too are all connected and communicating with another person, even a stranger, can make us feel better.

If you’ve enjoyed your forest wellbeing experience today, perhaps you could share our forests for wellbeing virtual resources with a friend for them to try? Or you could share your forests photos with us – we’d love to see them! 

Get connected: Share your photos or join us for a weekly check in on Instagram.

Stick around...

Charlie Dimmock
02 March 2021
We went on a walk in the woods with Charlie Dimmock to hear why she chooses to spend time in the forest.
Sunlight shining through woodland scenery
Family activity
19 December 2019
Use this journal to give yourself time to relax and experience the restorative benefits of forests, even at home.
Woman with closed eyes facing out of a window
07 April 2020
Spending time in forests is good for our mental, physical and social wellbeing. So how do we continue to experience the wellbeing benefits of trees and forests whilst following the important Government advice to stay safe and stay home? Well the good news is that recent research suggests that connection with nature is more important for mental wellbeing than simple exposure to nature. Nature connectedness describes our emotional and relationship with nature. Research shows that people who are connected to nature, rather than simply exposed to nature, have better wellbeing and are more likely to do things that benefit nature.
Three women sat on a bench enjoying the view in the woods
07 September 2020
When you think about sport, exercise and physical activity what springs to mind? Gyms, Lycra, sweating, red faces, hard work, personal bests…? It can seem a very daunting prospect. Wouldn’t it be lovely if there was a more mindful way to get active? Well we might just have the answer. To celebrate #MindfulMonday, part of the Great British Week of Sport, we’ve teamed up with Mind, the mental health charity, to inspire you to find some mindful movement amongst the trees.