10 Ways To Find Health + Wellness In Your Backyard

By Katie Dillon

Close up Rear View of Slim Woman Meditating in a Lotus Yoga PosiNature as a form of therapy has been a confirmed belief for centuries. Gardens and gardening are incorporated into hospitals, rehabilitation centers and treatment methods to assist with recovery from a variety of mental and physical ailments.

It’s easy to inject wellness into your own slice of nature, a move that is likely to impact mood and energy levels in a positive manner. Your backyard should be a private sanctuary anyway so we have ten ideas for you to get started.

Do (Some of) Your Own Gardening

Don’t leave all tasks to your gardener. Take a few off of his or her plate (or add in a few more) in order to do some of the work yourself. Gardening is surprisingly good exercise and studies have shown that it’s proven to lower Cortisol levels (the stress hormone), thereby decreasing the amount of stress a person feels. And we don’t have to tell you why stress is terrible for us.

Use this as an excuse to rotate in seasonal blooms or start an herb garden that you and the family can be responsible for tending. Just be mindful to protect your back and knees as well as use sun protection.

Get a Hammock

backyard-hammockWe recently covered the benefits of hammocks in another post but the gist is this. Experts believe that sleeping in a hammock from short naps to a full night (you’ll need a special hammock and technique for the latter) promotes a deeper and more productive type of sleep. It’s largely due to the gentle rocking motion, which also calms the mind even when resting in a hammock with a good book. A variety of hammock styles exist these days to fit in with overall yard design. A hammock could be the focal point you’re looking for.

Get Things Planted

Belgard 2013 Catalog PhotographyPlants themselves (and the color green, in general, so artificial grass qualifies) are stress relievers as they allow people to concentrate better so that they perform tasks with better accuracy. They also say that spending 20 minutes outside in nature, among plants, can help improve memory. This is why you see living walls popping up in restaurants and businesses across the globe.

Use this as inspiration to get the yard in order. In a water-wise world, a backyard stuffed with lush tropical plants isn’t realistic but we say tidying up the yard to a point where it doesn’t cause stress works wonders fits the bill. This means covering bare spots with pavers, planting cool grids of succulents and incorporating a design that you are literally at peace with.

Plan a Detox Herb Garden

A variety of herbs that are fantastic for detoxing and weight loss can be grown in the backyard and easily slipped into waters, teas and other recipes. To give you a few examples, cilantro is high in dietary fiber and thought to lower cholesterol. Mint is a natural detoxifier that may also increase circulation, settle nausea and more. Fenugreek is another power herb thought to ease PMS symptoms, manage weight loss and strengthen the health of the nervous system. Of course, there are more herbs to consider so do some research to decide which are the most applicable to your health and taste buds.

Incorporate Pleasant Sounds

Hardscape projects located in Tennessee, completed with materials manufactured by Adams Building Supply.

Sound therapy has been used by many cultures for centuries as a way to help people find balance. Basically, sound shifts brainwaves in a positive manner to help combat sleep problems, anxiety, depression, pain and a host of other ailments. Apparently, when we are stressed, our relationship to sound changes so that everyday sounds become increasingly aggravating. Sound therapy helps focus the mind on sounds in order to help us determine which to focus on and which to let go.

The two most common ways to add sound therapy to an outdoor living space are via a water feature or wind chimes. The other upshot is that the calming sounds of running water or melodic chimes can mitigate traffic and other irritating noises.

Leave Digital Devices Indoors

Apparently, the average person is checking a digital device at least once every 6 minutes. Breaking from digital devices allows the brain to properly rest and is something most of us do not do enough. In fact, forget juice cleansing, some argue that a digital detox is the more important kind of detox we can perform. Make a point to deliberately go outside enjoy your garden without a phone in hand. Sit in a chair, close your eyes and rest.

Strike a Pose

Know a few yoga poses that you can perform safely at home? Good. Roll out a mat outside (or not) and perform some helpful poses. A few sun salutations in the morning as the sun is rising is an ideal way to start the day. Or opt for a tree pose, downward dog, child’s pose or really anything that makes you feel good even for just 20 minutes or so.

Meditate Outside

Assuming your backyard is a relatively quiet space, meditating is quite a simple thing to do. Find a quiet spot, sit comfortably, close your eyes, breathe naturally, relax the body, focus your attention on your breath. Of course, a variety of meditation techniques exist that one can explore after mastering the basics. A recent Harvard study showed that consistent meditation over the course of 8 weeks helped rebuild the brain’s grey matter. This is major.

Surround Yourself with Pleasant Smells

Photo credit: rose, Matthias Engel
Photo credit: rose, Matthias Engel

Science shows that pleasant smells can change our moods. The business of aromatherapy thrives because many people agree and have demonstrated measurable improvement. If the smell of cut grass or fresh rain is too hard to come by consider planting a rose bush or herb garden to provide calming fragrance.

Just Breathe

Forget reaching for a caffeine drink, studies show that spending time in fresh air is more energizing. Going outside for just 20 minutes per day can significantly increase vitality.

So, now close the laptop and head outside. See how you feel and report back.

Your Turn…

How do you detox outside?

Katie Dillon

Katie writes La Jolla Mom, a lifestyle site focused on parenting, luxury travel, cooking with kids, home management and local happenings. When not traveling, she lives in the seaside community of La Jolla, CA with her 5-year-old fashionista, dog and husband.

Follow Katie on TwitterPinterest and Google +.