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To some, an attempt to connect with nature can be intimidating. It can feel a bit directionless and overwhelming to consider the different choices that exist. “Where to go, what to bring or what to do?” are common questions that can derail a good faith effort to get outside and enjoy more of the world around us. Nature exploration is often times misunderstood to involve complex decision making or effort. It’s also easy for people to assume that it has little offer in terms of value. But this is where they’re wrong. Nature has so much to offer!
As we’ve been more intentional in terms of our own explorations, I’ve stumbled upon some truly magical trails and forest habitats. And some right in the town that we live in. Getting out and exploring trails your own town or neighboring communities is an incredible way to restore your sense of balance by allowing you to experience your everyday in a new and fulfilling way. It is also the easiest and most affordable way to decompress from the chaos and demands of everyday life.
IDEAS TO RESTORE CONNECTION AND CREATIVITY.
Are you inspired yet? That’s a great first step! Let’s now break down some easy and unique opportunities to get out, get creative and connect with the nature.
1. Grab a book and learn something new. Don’t know much about birds? How about trees and flowers? If your answers are “no” well you’re in luck. This may be the easiest way to connect with nature and comes with one of the biggest payoffs – acquired knowledge! You can hit up your local library for books on anything nature related – birds, trees, flowers, marshes, insects – and then go for a walk in the woods. Make a list ahead of time of the top 3-5 species you’d like to find or observe. Take a child with you and watch as they light up with curiosity and joy at your first successful sighting.
There are many accessible national trails in our world and if you’re in the U.S. you can check out an endless supply of beautiful or historic trails closer to home.
2. Bring a yoga mat to a park or pond. Something really amazing happens when we connect physical fitness to the outside, natural world. Ever wonder why you see so many people running or cycling outdoors? Aside from the obvious reasons like more efficient muscle workout and more interesting scenery, just getting outdoors and exploring nature has been shown to impact our moods, senses and general wellbeing. Let’s face it, it’s just more fun to be outdoors! But if stretching and contorting in public isn’t your thing, just bring your mat into your backyard for added privacy. If you aren’t familiar with yoga or don’t own a mat, just grab a blanket and look up a few different beginner yoga poses on your device.
3. Do a scavenger hunt. Traditionally thought of as best to do with young children, a nature scavenger hunt is an excellent way to interact with the natural world. Not only are you using cognitive skills to navigate your landscape and determine compatible items from the list but you’re also building movement and exploration into your day. Give it a try next time you’re out in nature. You can even download this free nature scavenger hunt form that I made for my daughter.
4. Collect loose rocks, sticks and leaves and make something. Opportunities for art lie all around us. The creative process allows us to transform our thoughts and ideas into tangible expressions of ourselves. What an incredible legacy to leave behind! Check out this simple yet creative project I made using materials found in our backyard. Not only is this type of activity affordable and accessible but it also creates special memories and meanings to enjoy for years to come.
5. Pick up some art materials and create a colorful landscape. Not an artist? That’s ok! It can be exhilarating to try something new and completely out of your comfort zone. Perfection isn’t important but breaking away from your natural tendencies can be both energizing and inspiring. Pick up some canvases and a travel art case like this one and you’ll have everything you need to get started. Bring a friend or child for encouragement and fun. Test your imagination, get vulnerable and, most importantly, be proud of your initiative and courage. (Don’t forget a water bottle and paper towels for clean up).
6. Collect stones or pebbles and spread some kindness. Kindness rocks have gained popularity in recent years and we can see why! These natural pieces of art can be designed and created by anyone regardless of level of creativity or skill. To start, travel to your favorite destination – a walking trail, park or mountain – and gather palm sized rocks along your special journey. Then, using acrylic paint and basic paint brushes (or these easy to use acrylic pens), you can easily transform these rocks into colorful canvases with messages of kindness and joy. Make a set for family members to stay connected both near and far, or pick a theme and leave individual rocks on the doorsteps of your neighbors. Whichever you choose, these rocks will certainly leave a sweet impression.
A CURE FOR BOREDOM AND ISOLATION.
Many times, when people feel bored, isolated or depressed it is due to a lack of connection with people, animals or the natural world. This is why exploring nature can have a powerful impact. Walking around outside might not appear impactful to you but consider the auxiliary benefits of shared experiences or solitude, creative problem solving or meditative thoughts, or activating all five senses in a real time, interactive environment.
So next time you feel like grabbing that screen or you hear your child or partner complain of boredom, consider one of the ideas in this post to jump start a new area of personal growth. These ideas are simple yet engaging activities intended to promote a sense of wellness and connection with nature. Not only are they attainable but they also foster an appreciation for the environment that we live in but often times overlook. Just head into your backyard or a nearby park or trail and you’ll be surprised at the empowerment and connection that you find.