Makes Sense

Sonia Thompson

Nature is all around us, but how often do we actually notice it? The way a crisp autumn morning smells, the vibrant colors of fall, the sound of fish making ripples on a lake's surface. Tuning in to all five of our senses can help us benefit from the bounty that nature offers.

Take a closer look at nature (photo by Alyssa Rosenheck).

1. Sight
People who experience a natural landscape on a regular basis report higher life satisfaction, happiness, and self-esteem, and less loneliness and depression. Step outside or simply gaze out the window and be intentional about noticing nature — the geese gliding overhead or the way the sun filters through the trees. How does the outdoors around you look today?

Is it quiet enough to actually hear the plants grow? (photo by Alyssa Rosenheck).

2. Sound
We tend to think of nature as silent, but if we really tune in, what do we hear? Birds chirping, water flowing, wind blowing through the trees. These nature sounds ground us and connect us to the outdoors.

Open a window and what do you smell? (photo by Alyssa Rosenheck).

3. Smell
Science tells us that scent, emotion, and memory are intertwined. Also interestingly, according to the Harvard Gazette, people tend to smell in color, for example, associating citrus smells with the colors orange and yellow or the smell of vetiver, a grassy scent, with the colors green and brown. Participants in a recent study associated the smells of beeswax and fresh summer air with happiness, and others reported that natural scents from blooming plants make them feel more calm and alert.

Nature tastes great (photo by Alyssa Rosenheck).

4. Taste
The taste of vegetables or fresh herbs connect us back to nature in very practical ways as we appreciate how nature nourishes us. We can be mindful of the water, soil, and other elements that helped to create our meal.

Reach out and touch some nature (photo by Alyssa Rosenheck).

5. Touch
We feel more connected with nature every time we walk barefoot on soft grass, or hold a vibrant fall leaf in our hands, or feel the rough bark of a tree trunk. Touch is one of our most powerful senses, and it connects us with the outdoors on a daily basis.

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