Wild Life book by Author Anna Carlile, Design by Nature.


How to ‘rewild’ your life to live better

Evelyn Lewin, May 28 Edition of Sunday Life April 2024

Sunday Life's Evelyn Lewin talks with Anna Carlile about her recent book Wild Life and the benefits of connecting with nature.

Instead of spending our days cooped up in our homes, Anna Carlile wants us to “rewild”. That doesn’t mean going bush, foraging for food and throwing away devices. Rather, she says rewilding is all about “connecting with nature and understanding your place in it”.

She says the term originally referred to restoring land to its natural state. Recently it has been applied to people looking to live more sustainably.

Carlile, who has a master’s degree in environment, has written extensively on connecting with the elements. Her latest book, the aptly titled Wild Life, explores how people can become more wild in themselves, their homes, their neighbourhoods and further afield.

So how can we yank ourselves away from the modern world and better immerse ourselves in nature? Carlile says becoming more in tune with our bodies, and how they function best, is a great first step.

To do that, she says we need to embrace slow living and mindfulness, and to recognise the importance of moving your body daily.

Then it’s about aligning your home life more with nature, a practice known as biophilic design. Carlile says that can be as simple as “opening your curtains wide to let light in” or bringing more plants indoors. For those with a garden it may mean “converting grass lawns to wildflower meadows”, encouraging bees and butterflies to visit.

Spending time on projects that rekindle your connection with flora can also work wonders. Carlile recommends practising ikebana, “a mindfulness process of gathering wild flowers and making arrangements inside your house”. Growing herbs and vegetables can also help get your hands dirty while strengthening your ties to the outside. And venturing into wild areas such as national parks can help you appreciate the beauty of the great outdoors, further fuelling your passion to rewild.

Reconnecting with nature may be just what the doctor ordered, says Jessica Vander Hoeven, a Canberra-based psychologist and forest therapy guide.

From a biological perspective, she says, “humans are naturally drawn to the natural landscapes in which we evolved, and thrive when surrounded by nature”. This includes “green spaces” such as parks and forests and “blue spaces” like ponds and the ocean.

Being in such soothing environments allows us to replenish in a way we often can’t when we’re caught up in our technologically driven daily lives. She says other benefits include reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and improved mood, sleep and energy levels. It can also lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Your mood and outlook are bound to benefit too, Carlile adds: rewilding “rejuvenates, energises and inspires” her.

Rather than being a chore, she wants us to view rewilding as a source of joy. Sensory delights such as the sound of rustling trees or the smell of fresh rain can anchor us in the present, allowing us to “simply enjoy living in the now”.


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