As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, motivating yourself to spend time outside can be difficult. But research shows that being in nature has both physical and mental benefits. There’s an old Norwegian saying, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes!”. So throw on your warmest coat, put on an extra pair of pants and head outside!
Mindful Moments in Nature. Mindful nature activities have a myriad of health benefits. A recent study divided participants into groups that walked indoors, walked outdoors and walked outdoors while practicing mindfulness. Participants in the mindful outdoor walking group had less negative moods and a stronger connection with nature than in other groups. Below are some suggestions to connect mindfulness and nature – enjoy these activities with others or on your own!
Find Nature. Looking out your window and seeing a concrete jungle or a slew of tightly packed houses may be discouraging. It can feel like nature is a mythical land far away. But there is nature all around us, from the local parks to the tree-lined streets – you just have to look for it! Go on a nature hunt to find pockets of nature that exist in and around your community. Take note of what you see. Ask yourself how it looks different from other seasons.
Wander. Walk without an agenda or destination. When you get to a fork in the road, notice which way seems more intriguing and proceed. Note why you choose the direction you did.
Only practice this activity if you are familiar with the area or have a map in order to safely return home!
Sit Still . We often rush to get out of the winter weather and rarely pause to listen to the stillness of winter. Bundle up, find a spot in nature, and sit still. What do you hear? See? How are these sounds unique to winter?
Nisbet, E. K., Zelenski, J. M., & Grandpierre, Z. (2019). Mindfulness in nature enhances connectedness and mood. Ecopsychology, 11(2), 81–91. https://doi.org/10.1089/eco.2018.0061
Passmore, H.-A., & Holder, M. D. (2016). Noticing nature: Individual and social benefits of a two-week intervention. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 12(6), 537–546. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2016.1221126
White, M. P., Alcock, I., Grellier, J., Wheeler, B. W., Hartig, T., Warber, S. L., … & Fleming, L. E. (2019). Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and well-being. Scientific reports, 9(1), 1-11.