Take a Mindful Pause and Choose to find creative ways to benefit from closeness to Nature.
The past 14 months of life were dominated by highly stressful events. But just as spring emerges with grace and beauty even after the harshest and most bleak of winter days and moments of life — so too, we can emerge stronger as we witness and engage with the perpetual resilience and inspiration of the outdoors. Consider sprinkling these simple self-care seeds into your life and be ready to grow.
Simple tips to Emerge Stronger and Bloom
Shift Happens – Outside. Get outside to restore yourself from the inside out when life gets overwhelming. I occasionally invite clients outside for coaching sessions or encourage them to find spaces to practice their self-regulation skills outdoors. It’s easier, there, to sense the energy shift nature inspires. Step outside for a work break. Grill a meal and eat outdoors. Turn the walk to the mailbox into a walk around the block — a social or professional meeting into a walk and talk. Try this Movement Meditation series of postures and flows to embody the restorative gifts that Nature has to offer.
Get close to the Earth. If one silver lining comes from this pandemic experience, perhaps it is connecting with restorative qualities of the natural world. Early on in the pandemic, I heard from several clients the desire to get close to the Earth. One nurse couldn’t wait to get her hands into her garden, turning the soil, and planting seeds. Another client described pulling her car into the local park after a strenuous day at the hospital to restore herself with a scenic landscape before returning home. I remember pulling weeds last spring and, at one point, just laying down on the earth. My own parents have both passed away and somehow the earth seemed to provide me the comfort that I needed.
Be playful and prayerful outdoors. Play is an often neglected dimension of well-being. But play, especially outdoors, can quickly transform mood and energy. I’ve heard stories of parents watching movies projected on sheets outdoors and camping in parks or their own yards. Neighbors and friends can safely gather around campfires. The local parks are hives of activity as we all seek safe ways to exercise, socialize, and even pray.
While several churches had to shift to virtual gatherings, William Cullen Bryant’s poem, A Forest Hymn, reminds us:
The groves were God’s first temples.
In the woods, along a stream or lake, on a mountain top or rolling plain, our minds and hearts become inspired, emboldened, purified, reconciled, and somehow, we can even feel born again.
How much time do you need to spend outside? Nature deficit disorder is a legitimate reality. One study researched nature’s role in ergonomics (work setting) and demonstrated that time in nature is known to improve mood, enhance respiratory functioning, regulate hormonal malfunctions, and impact thought structure. A recent study examined associations between recreational nature contact in the last seven days and self-reported health and well-being. The likelihood of reporting good health or high well-being becomes significantly greater when individuals have greater than 120 minutes of nature contact in the past week. It did not matter how that 120 minutes of contact was achieved – it could be one long visit or several shorter visits in a week.
With burnout on the rise and the temptation to slip back into old work and social behaviors, let us not forget our relationship with the natural world as an important part of our wellness journey.