I was doing a live event over on Instagram the other day on aspects of remote work when one of my guests asked this question: how can we use social media to reconnect with nature. Now, if you Google the question, you will receive a long list of recommendations on how to disconnect from online channels and reconnect with nature…in nature. However, in the current lockdown that’s very limited, so finally we start to appreciate the power of the social web for wellbeing. The digital technologies connect us with virtual representations of the natural world, of course, but our brains react with similar feelings of relaxation and calm, joy even.
Here are my few quick tips on how to reconnect with nature online:
- Making the most of the Social TV and YouTube – social TV platforms are designed to hook us on particular shows based on our history, so it’s important to shift and change the algorithm and train it to serve us more programmes related to nature. Watching documentaries about nature on Netflix, Disney+/National Geographic or YouTube premium (without the interruption of adverts) can be really informative and relaxing. Our brains like to learn so new facts will keep us busy, while the familiar sounds and pictures of nature might just ease off our sense of claustrophobia.
- Making the most of Instagram – following key celebrities and brands working with conservation, gardening or animals can be really useful, but you can also sign up for generic or more specific hashtags and really tailor your content experience
- Using mindfulness apps serving natural sounds – for example, Calm app (even though it can be paid) to build the sounds of nature into our daily gratitude and mindfulness routine. Listening to the sounds of rain, forest or thunder can be really relaxing, but please make sure you choose tones that you individually find comporting. We all have very different associations with storms or even rains.
- Browsing on Pinterest – this social network is really well equipped to pull in visual images similar to your original search results, which means that once you find something calming and relaxing, you can follow the additional search results to find more similar pictures on the same topic. Allow yourself some time to just surf the network, but if you tend to lose too much time on this activity, do use your alarm for a gentle nudge also.
- Making the most of the app store categories – sometimes we can get stuck in our own familiar social media networks, but there are a lot of useful and free apps out there on multiple mobile, and desktop platforms so make the most of your app store. Follow NASA for space-related apps, National Geographic for nature, and so on. Search for related categories: nature, space, gardening, animals, conservation, mindfulness – be as open to new ideas as possible.
- Making the most of social gaming – gaming consoles are ever so sophisticated and immersive right now. My personal favourite is Ori for Xbox and Prune and Sky: Children of the Light for iPhone. They are magical, sweet and stunning. Cyberpsychology studies have already demonstrated the positive impact of social gaming on our self-esteem and positive mindset so why not try a little bit of immersive entertainment in magical worlds bringing us closer to nature in this new way?
We don’t usually mention this in our daily conversations, but many people who struggle with access to the natural world: people spending time in a hospital, elderly or isolated individuals, people living in cities with minimal access to parks. They actually tend to praise the digital technologies and social media channels for this new way of connecting with the wider natural world. So today, as we join them in this challenging experience of self-isolation at home, let’s make the most of what social media and other online platforms have on offer – if we choose wisely, we might benefit from it.
There are many more tips, of course. You can read or listen to books, podcasts and other media outlets. You can find nature-related content on most social media channels – just follow the right people. The above tips are from me, so I would love to know what works for you. And please don’t forget to open your window, move your coffee time to your balcony and have your dinner in the garden, if you can. Stay safe!