Whether you’re heading off to the beach, the mountains, or visiting family across the country, making time to be in nature can bring you (and your little one) tremendous benefits.
Did you know that just 10 minutes spent in nature can boost your mood and release stress?
According to the latest research, nature can also help you:
- Reduce levels of stress hormone cortisol
- Increase calm and alertness
- Improve memory and concentration
- Reduce inflammation
- Expand creativity
But there’s a way to enhance these benefits even further: be there fully.
In other words, practice mindfulness. This can be as simple as intentionally becoming more aware of all your senses while you’re outside…
- Feel the warm sun kissing your skin
- Enjoy the smell of fresh-cut grass or the salty air
- Listen to the cheerful bird songs in the morning
- Notice the wind blowing through your hair
- Feast your eyes on the display of pinks and oranges in a sunset
Nature itself is a great teacher of mindfulness. By paying attention to your senses in these ways, you can diminish your mental narratives of worry and come back to the fullness of the moment at hand.
Here are a few fun ideas to help you soak up the full benefits of nature with your family:
Build an elf house
If you happen to be in a forest, a great activity to do with your kids is to build a house for the elves and fairies living there. Gather tree branches, pine cones, leaves, or rocks and get creative with putting together a cute little elf house. Notice the texture of your “building materials”…feel the smoothness of the leaves or the rough edges of the pine cone.
Make a sand castle
If you’re on the beach, building a sand castle can easily be turned into a mindfulness activity. Become aware of the texture of the sand under your toes and in your hands. Feel the temperature of the water as you solidify the fort. Close your eyes and listen to the waves crashing on the shore.
Pick berries and other fruits
The summer months are often ripe with opportunities to enjoy fruits like strawberries, blueberries, or cherries as they come to fruition. Take your little ones out to a farm or a forest and pick these fruits together. Take the time to feel gratitude as you appreciate the color of each fruit. Then enjoy the sweet taste of your efforts as you nibble along the way.
Find a large grassy area where you’ll feel safe walking barefoot. Take your shoes off and walk around slowly for a few minutes. Pay attention to how it feels to have the grass gently brushing upon your feet. Note what it feels like to put one foot after another. Sense the muscles in your legs moving as you make each step. Welcome to the practice of mindful walking!
Wherever you find yourself this summer, I hope you enjoy it fully and with lots of smiles and laughter.