Kate Kutchera is a Bristol Nordic Walking instructor and regularly practises mindfulness, the ability to be fully present, aware of where we are, what we’re doing and how to stay calm under pressure. We asked Kate to tell us more on mindfulness – the research, the benefits and what we can do to bring a sense of peace into our hectic lives.
“Growing up on a small island just off the Pembrokeshire coast I was surrounded by nature and have always felt a deep connection with it. When immersed in nature it fills me with a sense of calm, happiness and complete peace. Even when I’m in a city the merest sight of a tree swaying in the breeze, or the sound of birdsong can put me at ease.
Nature is so powerful and we are only now really starting to understand and appreciate the profound impact it has on all our lives.
It has now been scientifically proven again and again that being in nature is one of the best medicines for many different conditions. From lowering blood pressure to helping with insomnia, decreasing stress levels to helping with depression, mother nature is a marvellous healer.
Recent research carried out by Brighton and Sussex Medical School determined that sounds of nature, the wind whistling through the leaves or the passing of a gentle stream will help us to relax and feel calmer.
In research conducted in collaboration with the Wildlife Trust, Exeter University found that after being in nature for just a short period of time, 95% of participants reported feeling significantly higher levels of mental health and wellbeing.
Memory and attention span also benefit from time in nature, with University of Michigan psychology researchers pointing to a 20% improvement after spending an hour interacting with nature.
Be mindful. Be grateful. Be positive. Be kind.
You might also have heard a lot about mindfulness or being ‘in the moment’ over the last couple of years. This is the practice of stopping for a short time (or longer if you have the patience) and taking in your surroundings, being totally aware and being fully present in the moment.
Pay attention to the sensation of your breathing. What can you see, hear, smell, touch? How do you feel? Again, this practice has been proved to help in many areas such as
- improving your sense of wellbeing
- becoming more self-aware
- feeling calmer and less stressed
- being more able to choose how to respond to your thoughts and feelings
- coping with difficult or unhelpful thoughts
- being kinder towards yourself
Mindfulness plus nature equals bliss
Mindfulness through nature can be a very powerful thing.
Don’t just look, see. Don’t just hear, listen.
Take in all the aromas of your surroundings.
Touch and feel the nature all around you.”
You can find our favourite Nordic walking poles here and if you’re looking for our advice on good kit here’s our recommendations: