Commando to Conservationist – Nick Goldsmith’s 5 Essential Ways to Rekindle Your Connection with Nature
Few transformations are as dramatic as that of Nick Goldsmith. His journey from the battlefields of Afghanistan as a Royal Marine Commando, to the idyllic woodlands of Chew Valley – Nick’s advocacy for mental wellness is a powerful example of resilience and adaptability. Today, as an author and presenter Nick helps city dwellers tap into the healing rhythms of nature.
We caught up with him right here in The Square’s Secret Garden, one scorching summer’s afternoon, to get a peek into his bestselling book Re-Wild Your Mind, and to hear his top 5 tips for reigniting our bond with the natural world.
1. Practice Good Guest Behaviour
“Your interaction with nature should be as light as possible. Aim to leave no trace. Strictly speaking, the only thing you should take in the wild, is a photograph. The only thing you should leave is a footprint.”
In Nick’s words, the echo of humanity’s symbiosis with nature resonates loud and clear. City living can be disillusioning, but when we step into nature, the importance of respecting it as you would the home of a friend is paramount. In doing so, we can practice mindfulness. Knowing that the space does not exist for our pleasure or plunder encourages us to see the value of what the natural world offers as an opportunity to think outside of ourselves.
2. Go Wild
“Maybe, more than anything else you do in the outdoors, wild swimming—be it in a river, lake, or sea— makes you feel alive.”
The sensation of cool water enveloping your body, the rhythmic lull of the current–wild swimming is a transformative experience. It’s a reminder of our intrinsic relationship with nature, a connection often dulled by the humdrum of city life. With a careful approach to safety and respect for local ecology, diving into a natural body of water can reawaken the senses and invigorate the spirit.
3. Research First, Eat Later
“In all the years I’ve been foraging, I’ve never poisoned myself thanks to the knowledge I’ve acquired… You need to be able to identify the plants you’re looking for and how to tell them apart from lookalikes which can sometimes be poisonous.”
As we city-dwellers venture into the great outdoors, the importance of arming ourselves with awareness of potential danger cannot be understated. While responsible foraging can be nutritionally beneficial as well as an enjoyable harkening to our early human roots, Nick’s advice serves as a reminder that nature is not just a benign refuge but a place to tread cautiously. What you’re pretty sure of is something harmless could be a very poisonous doppelganger. While Nick’s book will dive into the distinctions in more depth, if you don’t have a copy to hand, be sure to thoroughly research before ingesting any found flora.
4. Campfire Conversations
“From the gorgeous smells to the gentle crackling sounds it produces, and the mesmerising visuals of the flames–I adore everything a campfire brings. I especially love that it naturally creates a space where you can speak freely and without judgement.”
What’s more primordial than an open flame? A fire provides the opportunity to reflect and be at ease. Campfires can ignite nostalgic reminiscing and foster profound connections—with others, with ourselves, and with the world around us—especially when we practice safe fire handling practices.
5. Walk It Out
“Getting outside for a headspace walk doesn’t mean you have to drive for miles to find an ancient woodland or piece of coast–far from it. Even if you live in the city, there’s more green space around you than you realise.”
Nature finds a way to bloom, even in the most urban of sprawls. A quiet walk in the park or taking five in a neighbourhood greenspace can be just what the doctor ordered for clearing the mind. Stepping away from our screens and breathing the fresh air can be a welcome break from daily stress, and an opportunity to recenter.
Connecting with nature doesn’t have to be about grand adventures or distant landscapes. Instead, it’s about recognising and cherishing the natural elements that exist in our everyday lives. As city-dwellers, it’s powerful and incredibly beneficial to our mental clarity to weave this green thread into our urban tapestry, to create a sense of belonging that transcends the manmade world.
Nick’s book Rewild Your Mind is available online and in local retailers.