It’s no secret the outdoors is a provider of exercise, adventure, beauty, and fun. But there’s a whole other set of benefits to be gained from a slightly different type of health and wellness outdoor exploration.
Time spent outdoors doesn’t always need to have a plan, route, or goal to make it worthwhile. In fact, sometimes the best way to nurture your body and mind is through taking a contemplative walk, as opposed to a destination-driven hike. Sometimes, you literally need to stop to smell the roses and take it all in.
Time spent outdoors is great for our fitness, health, stress levels, and so much more. But if what you’re after is mental and emotional wellness, then here are 3 ways to utilize the healing power of nature.
Reconnect With Your Inner-Child
In adult life, most of us have limited leisure time. It tends to get eaten up with household chores, errands, socializing, and whatever else you can squeeze into your days. Although these things are important, too often we neglect our mental and emotional wellness. In our society, everything is driven by results, meaning that most of what we do is in pursuit of a larger goal. As our Local, Terri, so rightly says, we “start to believe that achievements are more important than feeling and being”.
The Art of Play
A great way to re-ground and re-connect with your inner child is to explore the art of play: think fort building, splashing around at the beach, exploring the forests, or rediscovering your neighbourhood playground. These activities are more than fun – they all let you access the child-like curiosity and creativity that makes play such a wonderful thing. All that’s left to do is to open yourself to the experience!
Take a “Bath” in the Forest
Shinrin-Yoku, also known as forest bathing, was first developed in the 1980’s in Japan, and it is now a fast-emerging practice in Canada. “Forest bathing” is the perfect term to describe the practice, as you allow yourself to sink into the forest and interact with nature in a meaningful way. By slowing down and opening all 5 senses to the array of sights, textures, smells, sounds, and sensations, you can immerse yourself in your surroundings. This kind of interaction with nature has been shown to reduce stress, improve focus, and increase energy levels.
Our Sooke based Local, Ryan, has experienced the benefits of forest bathing first hand. The first step, he says, is to be fully present, in the forest, and take in your surroundings. Sit or stroll in silence, and enjoy the natural beauty.
“Time spent in nature, either by yourself or with the company of good friends is healing. Just the freshness of the air and bringing that into your body, the vitamin D, and even just the lack of noise and air pollution can really help people in terms of their mental health and stress.” – Ryan
You don’t need to dive right into full-on forest bathing to harness these benefits. Whatever nature you have at your disposal is better than none at all. Even a visit to your neighbourhood park for 15 minutes of mindfulness after work can do a lot for your overall wellness.
“When you’re sitting in the office, stressed and you look out the window and you see the trees. You can bring yourself back to that moment outdoors, that you enjoyed when you relaxed… You don’t have to be there in the forest to reap the benefits, you can take that with you.” – Ryan
Another lesser-known benefit of the great outdoors is grounding. The practice of making direct contact with the earth in order to neutralize unstable atoms called free radicals. By walking barefoot through the grass, you absorb some of the earth’s negatively charged electrons, which then neutralizes the free radicals. Any skin-to-earth contact works, but grass, sand and dirt are all more conductive when they are wet, so don’t be afraid to get down and dirty!
The research behind grounding says that anywhere from 20-30 minutes per day will do the trick. Try taking your morning coffee outside, or rest your tired feet in some soft grass after work. Try grounding as you practice yoga and meditate, and walk in silence to activate your senses.
A huge proponent of mental and emotional wellness, Terri is a Jasper based Local who knows the importance of taking time outdoors for personal reflection, healing, and growth. She helps her Explorers tune in to their surroundings and clear their minds. By focusing on the sensations around you, she helps us feel our own personal connection with nature.
“Sometimes I feel so small compared to the mountains here. I am reminded daily there is something bigger than me here that I am part of and can connect to at any moment… It helps me to get out of my head, slow down, disconnect from ‘shoulds’ and follow my feelings.” – Terri
No matter where you live or how you spend your free time, we can all benefit from rest and relaxation in the outdoors. Take the time to prioritize your mental and emotional wellness with the help of a Yervana Local. Explore all Adventures to find what’s right for you. Use Yervana to message your Local and let them know what you hope to focus on ahead of your Adventure.
Don’t forget to share your experience with the Yervana community via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter using #Yervana. We’d love to hear how you use nature and the outdoors to nurture your own wellness!
HARRISON HOT SPRINGS, BC
DESTRESS AND REVITALIZE: WALK IN THE FOREST
Meander slowly down trails or choose places that are easy to walk where you are. Come drink in the greenness, peace and see the beauty of nature. This walk is approximately two hours in length. There’s no job here. Nothing you are supposed to be doing. Just… be. A certified Forest Therapy Guide will guide you through the walk, helping you connect with nature and find relaxation.
AUTUMN FOREST BATHING EXPERIENCE
Experience the season and the natural world in a new, grounding, and connected way with this therapeutic nature connection practice. Exploring the more-than-human world on a forest bathing walk often leads to deep feelings of relaxation and contentment, reflection about one’s life, as well as new or strengthened relationships within ourselves, with others, and the web of life that supports us.