The Outdoor Lover’s Guide to Bringing the Outside In

April 28, 2020

When you bring the outside inside, you will feel like you’re spending time outdoors when really you’re in the comfort of your own home.

One of the biggest questions I’ve been getting: how do you handle being indoors all the time? For me, that answer is easy: by incorporating little pieces of the wilderness in my home.

Obviously, everything is uncertain right now and many states (and countries) have closed their outdoor recreation locations/facilities like parks, trails and beaches. And my whole heart aches for these places and the people who reside there because I know how important it is to breathe in the fresh air and get a boost of vitamin D.

I live in Maine and I am so thankful to be able to be here. Never thought the day would come that I would say that. But, Maine has A LOT of open space; many acres of forests, miles of trails, an endless coastline and several parks. Which also means, because of this dense and vast wilderness, our way of life is naturally a little more isolated and spread out. Most of our parks and trails are open so I’ve been able to get outside here and there which I am forever grateful for. But regardless of where you’re located, with a little imagination and creativity, incorporating the wilderness inside is easy. Here are 10 simple ways to bring the outside in!

1. Plants, Plants, Plants!

The first way to incorporate elements of the outdoors in your home (perhaps the easiest) is by bringing in plants, herbs and flowers. I’ve never harnessed the power of the elusive green thumb so there’s been a lot of trial and error as a plant mom.

The key to successfully being a plant mom (or dad) is finding the right plant for you and your home. You wouldn’t want a plant that requires a lot of natural light if you’re space does not provide that environment. And you wouldn’t want a high maintenance plant if you’re around only every other week. So, when you’re looking at plants be sure to read the personality tag they come with. These tags are an overview for how to care for the plant and the type of environment it needs. I love this article by Mind Body Green for some plant tips!

You can have flowers, dried flowers, hanging plants, a terrarium, potted floor plants, or potted plants on shelves. Or, take it one step further and create a green wall. Yep a vertical garden! These little changes and additions will surely bring the outside in.

Be sure to shop local when looking for plants in your area. I’m sure there are greenhouses and nurseries galore.

2. Listen to music + podcasts

There is nothing more peaceful than the sound of running water, birds chirping or the sound of a crackling fire. Fortunately for us, there are musicians and artists that incorporate these sounds into their music.

Music has the power to encapsulate feelings felt only by being outside, without you actually needing to be outdoors. Listening to songs with outdoor sounds will transport you back to your favorite trails or favorite far off destination. I created this Spotify playlist as an ode to the power of nature. It features songs about Pachamama (Mother Earth), sounds of nature, elements of nature and location specific songs. Spotify also offers curated playlists for the outdoor lover, like this one titled Nature Sounds.

Some of my favorite artists that incorporate nature into their music are Trevor Hall, Nahko, and East Forest.

Another way the soundwaves can make you feel at one with nature are through podcasts. Listening to stories about others’ experiences in the great outdoors is medicine for those of us that perpetually crave being outside! Some of my favorite podcasts are Hiking Thru, Backpacker Radio, Women Who Travel, Wild Ideas by REI and She Explores.

3. Meditate to bring the outside in

Speaking of sounds, guided meditations are vehicles for transportation straight to nature, too. Platforms like Insight Timer and Calm feature guided meditations, alongside music, to the sounds of nature. These platforms break down the guided meditations by benefits like sleep, stress and anxiety, health, and much more.

Many guided meditations offer a visualization to focus on. With your eyes closed, the visualization of a flowing river, a winding trail or infinite coastline suddenly become so vivid, you feel like you’re there. And when you add the sounds of nature on top- wowzers- it’s as if you’re actually at that stream, watching the wind rustle the green leaves as the sun peeks through. I love incorporating short guided meditations into my work day as a friendly reminder that nature is never out of reach.

4. Photography

I am a self-proclaimed expert in this department. Featuring photos of mountains, trails, beaches, flora & fauna, and any other outdoor scene in my space at home is an instant mood booster, in my opinion. For me, these visual representations of experiences past are a gateway to all the places I’d rather be when I can’t physically be there. Added bonus, change the wallpaper on your phone and computer to somewhere you’d rather be.

5. Watch movies, documentaries + docu-series about the outdoors

If you LOVE nature as much as I do, dedicating some time to watching movies, documentaries and docu-series will help bring the outside in.

Favorite Wilderness Movies

  • Into the Wild
  • The Mountain Between Us
  • Wild
  • The Revenant
  • Everest
  • The Way

Favorite Wilderness/Nature Documentaries

  • Our Planet (Netflix)
  • The Universe (Netflix)
  • Chasing Coral (Netflix)
  • Terra (Netflix)
  • SunGanges (Netflix)
  • Treehouse Masters (Hulu)
  • Home (AppleTV)

6. Read books (lots of them)

I’ve been living under a rock for quite some time when it comes to reading. I never used to read because I never found a genre of books that I like, until I read A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson. A book about two of the most unlikely hikers taking on the Appalachian Trail. While reading this book, I felt like I was walking alongside them as they trudged through the forest. Ever since, I can’t stop reading books about the wild outdoors.

My favorite books about the outdoors

7. Open the windows + and let the natural light in to bring the outside in

The literal gateway to being outside. Letting the fresh air fill your home might just be the easiest way to bring the outdoors in. No sun necessary.

It’s rain or shine for me when it comes to opening my windows. There is nothing like the smell of fresh rainfall or that crisp autumn air. So, in times you can’t get outside, open your windows. Every single one of them and let the fresh air and natural light flood your space, your lungs and cover your skin.

8. Light a candle, burn incense or use essential oils

Lucky for us, we live in an age where not only are the sounds of nature accessible inside, but the smells of nature are made into little vessels we can easily bring inside too. Candles, incense, and essential oils are great for that instant escape. Like everything else, all are not created equally. It’s important to know what’s inside these smell-good vessels because the last thing we want is to bring toxins in to our sacred spaces. Below are my favorite candle, incense and essential oil brands. I love them because they are made of natural ingredients in turn causing less harm to our environment and our bodies.

My favorite candle, incense and essential oil brands

9. Add earthy elements to your décor

You know, back to basics. Incorporating the textures and elements of nature within our homes is sort of a lost art.

Ways to include earthy elements in your home décor:

  • Using materials like wood, bark, bamboo and stone for floors, furniture and accents like frames
  • Opt for rattan furniture
  • Paint with rich colors of the forest
  • Hang hammocks
  • Display sundries and photos from your travels
  • Hang paintings
  • Collect textiles made of natural materials like wool or cotton

10. Plan future travels and hikes

Because the outdoors isn’t canceled and neither are future travels! While the timeline might be a bit unclear, it’s time to start planning the trip you’ve always wanted to or the hike you’ve always wanted to go on.

Putting in the hours of research for future trips and hikes could single handedly cure (maybe) my insatiable need (yours too), to be outside, on the road, chasing the endless experiences. Reading about a destination, searching for inspiration, sorting out how you’re going to get from A to B and from Y to Z, learning about this new culture you will experience, finding out what gear you might need or what to expect on a certain trail or from a certain beach, looking at photos and reading about others’ experiences are all things we must do before traveling or before getting outside. And, all are ways to instantly transport us to said place.

When the time comes that we can travel again to our favorite outdoor spaces and places and the overwhelming night-before feels take over our bodies. A feeling we thought we’d forgotten. Then, the moment you step off the plane or out of the car and your feet hit the ground and you think, ‘ahhh, yes. I am finally here.’ There is something to be said for planning a trip from start to finish and finally getting to experience it all for yourself. Here’s to a new appreciation for the once mundane research.

These are all ways I bring the outside in. How do you?