Most Americans are battling moderate or high stress, according to the American Psychological Association, and this may be one reason why so many are turning to stress-busting activities such as gardening, outdoor yoga, and nature-inspired meditation. Nature has a unique ability to lower your cortisol (stress hormone levels), according to study after study, which is why creating a private ‘relaxation space’ in your yard can help you achieve your aims. You don’t need to break the piggy bank or embark on serious renovation to create a place you can call paradise.
If you enjoy meditation, Tai Chi, yoga, or other Eastern holistic pursuits, the yard is the perfect place to practice these. Think of performing a sun salutation on an outdoor makeshift deck, meditating next to beautiful, large-scale Buddha statues, or practicing a little controlled (or pranayamic) breathing while listening to the gentle sound of wind chimes. When thinking of what touches to add to a spiritual area, think of how you can pamper all your senses. Perhaps with soft cushions made in sturdy sun-resistant materials (for the sense of touch), sounds of nature on your iPod, or vivid colors that complement the green lushness of your garden. Pampering your senses can help lower stress, which in turn can act as a trigger for personality disorders, depression, and anxiety. Many studies have shown that stress can worsen these disorders by affecting the way we regulate emotions and control impulses. However, holistic practises in an aesthetically pleasing setting can help keep its effects at bay.
If you plan on spending lots of time outdoors, then building a shelter can ensure you can still enjoy a little ‘me time’ even when it gets a little too sunny or it starts to rain. Choices for an outdoor shelter include putting up a sturdy outdoor tent, installing a prefabricated garden shed with plenty of light to enable you to work, or simply investing in an outdoor pergola that can be adapted to the sun’s rays so as to let in as much or as little light as you need. Your shelter should complement the yard so as to create a greater sense of balance. Thus, consider filling it with indoor plants, and make windows large enough for you to feel like you are almost outdoors when you completely open them.
Fountains and Water Features
If your idea of outdoor relaxation involves sitting in your garden bench and reading, then why not consider installing water features? These can range from a simple fountain (the beautiful sound of trickling water is immensely soothing to most people) to a fancy koi pond. If you opt for the latter, bear in mind that it will take professional maintenance; koi can be incredible delicate to raise. Of course, you can always opt for more resilient fish species that will nevertheless require professional guidance with respect to oxygen, food, and other needs.
Living in a cold area does not have to mean you cannot enjoy some calming outdoor time, even in winter. A fire pit or outdoor fireplace feature in the centre of dedicated stone-paved flooring is an idea way to turn your yard into a campground where you can watch the flames flicker as achieve a wonderful state of relaxation. Of course, your fire pit or outdoor fireplace will undoubtedly attract other family members who will delight in toasting marshmallows beneath a starry sky.
Building a balance mental space ultimately depends on creating an area that contains elements you find mentally soothing. Water fountains, fire, and wooden elements are immensely soothing for many, but you may be content with just a couple of large-scale inspirational statues placed by your favorite bench. Even if you have a few dollars to spend, consider a color or accessory change; one that will lift your mood and make your yard one of the most appealing places to head for when you feel stressed.