The trees are our lungs, the rivers our circulation, the air our breath and the earth our body. – Deepak Chopra
Every April 22 since the 1960s, tens of millions of people from every part of the globe come together to celebrate Mother Earth: our beautiful shared treasure and responsibility. Earth Day first started in the United States and has grown to more than 190 countries, uniting us all in the mission of protecting and appreciating our planet.
As a World Wildlife Panda Ambassador, I have had the opportunity to experience first-hand the intelligent ways WWF is educating humans to live in harmony with nature. Traveling the world and connecting with our planet in a conscious way leaves the door open to learn a tremendous amount from Mother Earth.
Here are my favorite ways to get in touch with nature, while improving health and wellness and connecting with the world, that you can use this Earth Day, or on any day.
Take a hike. A walk in nature allows you the freedom of mind and spirit to center yourself. Simply head out your door and explore. Leaving your everyday surroundings and casting aside the stress and daily anxieties that so easily build up are a natural medicine. Being in nature can ground us, remind us of what is really important, bring a more peaceful state of being, and gives us the space to simply be. If you’re not sure where to start, look up the nearest local, state, or national park– you’ll be surprised how close nature is to you.
Get lost in the stars. Since the beginning of time, our night sky has fascinated and inspired humanity. The vastness of space fills our desires of exploration and gives us a sense of wonderment sparking our imagination and creativity. The notion that we are all living on this one tiny blue planet brings life into perspective. Let your creativity flow while looking up. The National Park Servicehas an excellent guide for where and how to stargaze.
Get dirty. Take time to play in the dirt, plant flowers, herbs, trees… whatever your heart desires. Working in the soil is extremely grounding. Not to mention that research suggests that plants boost our moods, help us de-stress, and encourage creative thinking. Visit your local nursery or farmer’s market and pick up a few plants for your home, or find a local community garden, where you can plant vegetables and herbs for you to enjoy, while also beautifying your community and connecting with those around you. Get involved with the Canopy Project, which is dedicated to planting 7.8 billion trees in honor of the 50th Earth Day – one for every person on our planet.
Connect with your community. One of the beautiful things about Earth Day is that even though it brings people together from nearly every country in the world, it also connects our communities on a local level. Earth Day gives us the opportunity to build meaningful connections with those around us: find a farmers’ market, join a running club, take part in a local clean-up effort, or visit a park with friends. Mother Earth is a shared gift; enjoy and appreciate it with those around you.
Be mindful. We don’t always have the resources or the time to lose ourselves in nature, but that doesn’t mean we can’t connect with Mother Earth. Explore your community, and take time to find beauty and nature you might have overlooked during the bustle of normal daily life. Find a new park, take a bike ride, visit an arboretum: simply take time to be consciously aware and appreciative of the beauty that surrounds us every day.
Be informed – and take action. Earth Day isn’t just about appreciation, it can be about action. Use Earth Day to learn about the beauty and fragility of our planet, and about what you can do to protect it. Calculate your carbon footprint, unplugfor the day, take public transit instead of driving, start learning how to reduce your “foodprint,”shop smarter, organize and mobilize for climate action policies: the list of steps you can take to help Mother Nature is truly endless.