• Harvesting Wisdom: A Gentle Introduction to Winter’s Gifts

    | 7 Min Read |

    Embracing Nature: Boost Your Well-Being by Harvesting Seasonal Wisdom

    As November unfurls and the air grows crisp, we find ourselves on the cusp of a seasonal shift, heading into the holiday season. It’s a time of transformation, where nature invites us to pause amidst the anticipation and busyness.

    Ever noticed how an instant calm washes over you as you step into a serene park or forest?

    This transition into winter offers us an opportunity to reflect on our year and it’s lessons and uncover nature’s gifts for our mental and physical well-being.

    Nature as a Teacher

    Nature serves as an unassuming mentor, its lessons profound. By attuning ourselves to the world around us, we can uncover teachings that resonate deeply with our experiences. The concept of harvesting wisdom involves consciously observing and internalizing these subtle lessons, allowing them to nurture our minds and spirits.

    The transition from autumn to winter is particularly laden with metaphors and wisdom. As leaves relinquish their hold on branches, they mirror the practice of letting go. The trees, now bare, stand resilient against the biting cold, embodying strength and perseverance. The stillness of winter landscapes invites us to find peace amidst chaos and appreciate the beauty in simplicity.

    How does this Help Us?

    One of the most valuable lessons nature teaches us is about Embracing Transitions and Adaptability. Nature’s cycles exemplify resilience and adaptability. Trees shed their leaves to conserve energy during the colder months, demonstrating a strategic and graceful adaptation to changing circumstances1. Such practices are reminders of the importance of flexibility and prudent energy management in our own lives.

    Stillness and Reflection
    Winter’s stillness offers an opportunity for introspection. The peaceful landscapes, often blanketed in snow, echo a sense of calm and reflection. This mirrors our own need for mental quietude, providing us with a space to contemplate and realign our thoughts.

    Mental Health Benefits

    But these aren’t just metaphorical observations; there’s scientific backing to the Mental Health Benefits derived from nature. Nature’s therapeutic effects on mental health are both immediate and enduring. Even brief encounters with nature have been demonstrated to significantly benefit our mental well-being. A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research indicates that spending just 20 minutes in an urban park can help individuals feel happier, regardless of whether they engage in exercise during that time 2.

    Exposure to natural settings has been found to reduce mental fatigue and ease stress, thereby promoting a sense of tranquility3. Nature serves as a balm, soothing the senses and allowing for mental rejuvenation.

    One morning just a few weeks ago, I had a particularly triggering encounter with someone that really made me ‘flip my lid’.  I felt myself go from calm and relaxed to boiling mad.  I was driving home after dropping my son off at school and decided to take a make a stop at the Albrecht Nature Playscape in Forest Park instead of just heading home to stew. Even though it was just a brief escape, the calming rustle of leaves and the fresh air helped me regain composure and perspective and 100% turned my morning around.  What could have tainted my whole day, shifted because I took the time to stop and take a walk in nature. 

    Physical Health Perks

    In addition to mental health, let’s not overlook the Physical Health Perks that come with spending time outdoors. Numerous studies indicate that exposure to nature, even in short bursts, can boost immune function and contribute to overall health 4. The practice of Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, in Japan has garnered global attention for its reported benefits, which include a decrease in cortisol levels, suggesting a reduction in stress5.

    Practical Ways to Harvest Nature’s Wisdom

    Nature Walks and Forest Bathing

    Now, let’s explore some Practical Ways to Harvest Nature’s Wisdom. Mindful walks, also known as “forest bathing” or Shinrin-yoku, provide an immersive experience, offering an opportunity to observe and intimately connect with nature. Studies have validated the extensive benefits of forest bathing, indicating significant reductions in stress hormone levels, improvements in mood, and enhanced feelings of vitality 6.

    Journaling and Creative Expression

    Journaling and indulging in creative expression allow you to process and reflect on your experiences with nature. Writing about your observations or creating art inspired by the natural world can be deeply therapeutic and foster a sense of connection. Research indicates that expressive writing can lead to improved mood, well-being, and reduced stress levels 7.

    Nourishment from Nature

    Incorporating seasonal foods and natural elements into your daily life can enhance your overall well-being. Studies have shown that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is associated with better mental well-being8, and interacting with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress9.

    Reconnect and Rejuvenate: Nature Therapy Sessions

    If you wish to delve deeper, consider Reconnect and Rejuvenate: Nature Therapy Sessions. Embarking on a Harvesting Wisdom Walk or gifting a Guided Forest Bathing or Nature Therapy Session can be a transformative experience.

    Here is what participants of my Forest Bathing + Nature Therapy Sessions have to say about their experience:

    This was SO healing. I have felt so clogged emotionally. Having had a difficult time finding healing and community around processing the grief of losing my Dad. I was able to connect with the feelings that needed to be felt. I was able to be fully present in nature and with the group enjoying nature with the awe and wonder of a child!”

    – Ellen T.

    “My mood has improved, I feel a slowness, a sense if delight, and more connected to my sense of awareness. I noticed I wasn’t worried about others or watching to see what others were doing. I had the ability to tap into myself and my nervous system is calm.”

    – Nina C.

    “I was able to let the noice of the modern world settle out and find the spirit of Mother Earth speak. I felt reconnected and a deepened connection to nature”

    – James L.

    Harvesting wisdom from nature is a timeless practice guiding us toward mental and physical well-being. By observing, connecting, and reflecting, we foster a sense of balance and peace that resonates deeply within our lives.

    By engaging with these practices and reflections, we open ourselves to the gifts that nature freely offers, enriching our lives in ways both subtle and profound.


    EarthSky.org: Why leaves fall from trees in autumn

    International Journal of Environmental Health Research: Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing

    Frontiers in Psychology: Viewing nature scenes positively affects recovery of autonomic function following acute-mental stress

    International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: Health Benefits of Nature Experiences: Psychological, Social and Cultural Processes

    PubMed Central: Psychological effects of forest environments on healthy adults: Shinrin-yoku (forest-air bathing, walking) as a possible method of stress reduction

    Public Health: The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan

    American Psychological Association: Writing to Heal

    Social Science & Medicine: Lettuce be happy: A longitudinal UK study on the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and well-being

    Journal of Physiological Anthropology: Interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in young adults: a randomized crossover study

  • Hygge in Nature: Embracing Coziness Outdoors

    As the season shifts into autumn, I find myself longing for comfort and coziness. 

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of “Hygge” (pronounced hoo-ga).  

    If you’re not familiar, Hygge is a Danish word that represents a concept and lifestyle rooted in coziness, contentment, and well-being. Overall, Hygge encourages a slower, more mindful way of living and finding joy in the everyday moments. 

    As a Forest and Nature Therapy Guide, I’ve been contemplating how we can cultivate this feeling of Hygge outdoors, immersing ourselves in the soothing embrace of the natural world.

    Nature has an inherent capacity to comfort us if we’re open to sitting with her. She’s a living, breathing entity of which we are an integral part.

    One of my most cherished encounters with this comforting aspect of nature took place last August during the immersion portion of my Forest and Nature Therapy Guide Certification in the picturesque landscapes of Vermont. As part of the experience, we embarked on a four-hour solo walk akin to a silent retreat. We were encouraged to pack a bag with items that would accompany us throughout the day, and the only rules were, 1. if we were injured or needed help we were to blow a whistle 3 times (we were all given whistles for emergencies) and 2. Should we encounter anyone during our solo walk, we were to act as though we didn’t see them. The entire four hours was meant to be a silent, alone journey.

    I gathered my essentials into my bag: an assortment of pens and pencils (my pen-and-paper obsession is undeniable🤓), my favorite journal, a book of meditations, some snacks, a warm blanket, and a flask of hot tea. The location for this unique journey was the enchanting Basecamp at Beaver Falls, a place that encapsulated the quintessential Vermont charm.

    For those who’ve never visited Vermont, it’s precisely as depicted in the movies – densely forested, lushly green, and radiating an innate sense of peace. As I strolled, I couldn’t help but revel in the soft, springy forest floor, a result of years of pine needles from the towering hemlock trees that graced the landscape. Tiny pinecones lay scattered, creating a delicate mosaic.

    After walking the grounds for a half hour or so, taking in the grounds in silence, I came upon a tucked away spot on top of a ridge and decided it was the perfect place to settle. I laid down my blanket, relishing the tranquil surroundings. There, amid towering pine trees and flourishing ferns, I found myself sitting in silent communion with nature.

    I retrieved my flask of tea and, as the warmth spread through my fingertips, I was surprised by the profound coziness that enveloped me. It struck me that this was my Sunday morning ritual back home: sipping tea and playing with my pens and journal. Here I was, thousands of miles away, replicating the ritual. It was a moment of profound comfort and familiarity, an experience that touched me deeply.

    This day etched a revelation in my heart – not only is nature profoundly healing, but it can also be incredibly cozy when we open ourselves to its embrace. The memory of that day continues to remind me of the warmth and comfort that nature generously offers to those who seek it.

    Nature holds a wealth of comfort for all of us. It’s a warmth that many might not expect, but one that is readily available. Let’s explore how you can find your own sense of Hygge in nature.

    Discovering Hygge in Nature

    Hygge is more than just a set of practices; it’s a way of engaging with the world around us. To discover Hygge in nature, we must open to seeing the inherent connection between the coziness we seek and the natural world.

    Here are five activities that allow you to cultivate this sense of comfort while immersed in the outdoors to get you started:

    🌲 Forest Bathing and Nature Therapy Walk:

    Step into the woods and experience a mindful forest bathing session. Allow yourself to wander through a nature setting at a local park. Focus on your  breath and the sensations that surround you. Hygge begins with a deep appreciation for the present moment, and the forest or green  space  provides the perfect backdrop for finding this sense of coziness. I offer public and private Guided Forest Bathing and Nature Therapy Walks if you’d like some help getting started with this practice.

    🪵 Cozy Campfire Evenings:

    Gather your loved ones around a crackling campfire. Share stories, laughter, and warm drinks while the campfire’s glow blankets you with a sense of warmth and contentment. Nature’s music, from the rustling leaves to the distant night sounds, will provide a comforting symphony. 

    🍁 Autumn Leaf Art:

    During your forest (or local park) excursions, collect fallen leaves and pinecones. Use these natural treasures to create ephemeral art on the forest floor. Stay in the moment by focusing on the texture, colors and details of each leaf. It’s an opportunity to express your creativity and to cherish the simplicity of being in nature.

    🫖 Nature’s Tea Time:

    Prepare a cup of herbal tea using ingredients from your garden or your favorite local tea company. Let the flavors and scents of the plants envelop you, offering a soothing and refreshing experience. Hygge is all about savoring the simple pleasures, and a cup of herbal tea in nature is a perfect embodiment of this principle.

    🕯️ Candlelight/Flashlight Night Walks:

    As the sun sets, embark on a tranquil night walk with flashlight or even candlelight as your guide. Nature takes on a different character after dark, one that invites reflection and introspection. This unique perspective on the natural world enhances the feeling of coziness.

    Health Benefits of Hygge in Nature:

    The integration of Hygge and nature has profound physical, mental, emotional, and relational benefits. As we connect with the natural world, we shed the stress of modern life, and begin to feel more grounded and in tune with our surroundings. The mental clarity and emotional balance we find in nature can bring forth a sense of contentment that radiates into our daily lives. Moreover, sharing these experiences with loved ones deepens our connections and cultivates lasting bonds.

    We’ll soon be shifting out of Autumn and into winter and all the hustle and bustle that comes along with it. As the season shifts and life’s pace begins to quicken, embracing Hygge in nature becomes an essential part of our well-being. The cozy moments we share with the natural world not only bring comfort and contentment but also renew our spirits. 

    So, this autumn, why not join me for a guided Forest Bathing and Nature Therapy walk?

    I invite you to experience the depth of Hygge in nature and nurture your well-being in the soothing embrace of the outdoors.

    Let’s journey together to discover the beauty of slowing down, finding comfort, and experiencing the magic of Hygge in the natural world. 🫶

    In Peace and Presence,
    Jess 🌿

    Want monthly prompts, tools and inspiration for incorporating nature based wellness into your life? Subscribe to the Nature Connection Newsletterꜜ

  • 🍂Embrace the Autumn Equinox – 5 Nature Infused Ways to Celebrate the Shift of the Season🌼

    | 12 min Read |

    🌿 Happy Equinox, dear friends!

    The autumn equinox, also known as the fall equinox, holds significance due to its role in marking the transition from summer to fall in the Northern Hemisphere.

    It occurs when the sun crosses the celestial equator, resulting in roughly equal lengths of day and night.

    This moment of balance between light and darkness symbolizes several meaningful concepts:

    Harvest and Abundance: The autumn equinox traditionally aligns with the harvest season, a time when crops are gathered and stored for the coming months. It’s a celebration of abundance, gratitude, and the fruits of hard work.

    Balance and Harmony: The equinox is a fleeting moment when day and night are approximately equal in length. This symbolizes a sense of balance and harmony, both in nature and within ourselves. It encourages us to find equilibrium amid life’s transitions.

    Transition and Reflection: As summer transitions to fall, the equinox marks a shift in the natural world. This change invites us to reflect on the passing of time and embrace the beauty of impermanence.

    Renewal and Transformation: The equinox serves as a reminder that nature operates in cycles. Just as trees shed their leaves in preparation for winter, we too can let go of what no longer serves us, making space for growth and renewal.

    Cultural Celebrations: Across cultures, the autumn equinox has been observed with various rituals and celebrations. From festivals like Mabon to cultural traditions associated with harvest, it’s a time of connection to heritage and community.

    In essence, the autumn equinox invites us to align with the rhythms of nature, to embrace change with grace, and to find both unity and renewal in the cycles of life. It’s a moment to appreciate the interconnectedness of all things and to cultivate a sense of mindfulness and presence.

    As the autumn equinox graces us with its presence, let’s revel in the beauty of this transitional moment and connect deeply with nature’s rhythms.

    Here are five wonderful ways to celebrate the equinox while immersing yourself in the wonders of the natural world:

    🌞 Sunrise or Sunset Meditation: 

    Begin or end your equinox day with a meditation session while watching the sunrise or sunset. Find a peaceful spot outdoors, feel the earth beneath you, and let the golden hues of the sun fill you with tranquility. Let the shifting light remind you of life’s constant changes and the beauty they bring.

    🌳 Forest Bathing Adventure: 

    Venture into a nearby forest or park for a serene forest bathing experience. As you walk among the trees, take in the sights, sounds, and scents of the environment. Tune in to the rustling leaves and the gentle breeze, and embrace the equinox as a reminder of balance and harmony in nature.

    🍁 Equinox Ritual of Gratitude:

    Create a personal equinox ritual outdoors. Find a quiet spot, perhaps near a tree or by a body of water. Reflect on the abundance in your life and offer gratitude for the blessings of the past season. As you release fallen leaves or petals into the wind, let go of what no longer serves you, making space for new beginnings.

    🌼 Nature Art Expression:

    Celebrate the equinox by expressing your creativity through nature-inspired art. Collect fallen leaves, acorns, and twigs to craft a seasonal collage or arrangement. Use these gifts from nature to symbolize your connection to the earth’s cycles and your own journey of growth.

    🍂 Equinox Picnic Gathering:

    Gather with friends or family for an equinox picnic in a park or garden. Share seasonal foods, bask in each other’s company, and engage in conversations about the changing seasons. This shared experience honors the transition while fostering a sense of community and connection.

    By embracing these nature-infused celebrations, we create moments of mindfulness and connection that resonate long after the equinox sun sets. 🌄🌿

  • 🍂 Season’s Shift: Dive into Fall with Forest Bathing Events, Wellness Tips, and More

    |10 min Read |

    As the summer sun begins to mellow and the days grow a touch crisper, we find ourselves on the cusp of a beautiful seasonal transition. September brings with it the promise of change, of nature’s vibrant hues painting the landscape, and an opportunity for us to reconnect with the rhythms of the earth.

    I’m excited to share about upcoming September events, offer some tips for embracing the seasonal shift and a few pieces of exciting news!

    Upcoming September Events:

     🍂Forest Bathing + Nature Therapy 101: Mini Session Join me on September 9th at The Nature Institute in Godfrey, IL for a gentle, immersive forest bathing experience. Immerse yourself in the peace of presence and let nature’s embrace wash over you. [Learn More»]

     🌳Forest Bathing + Nature Therapy Sessions at the Livin’ Analog Day Retreat On September 23rd, join me at Simpson Park in Valley Park for a day of digital detox and mindful nature connection at the Livin’ Analog® Day Retreat. Let’s explore the wonders of presence and technology-free living. 2 Forest Bathing sessions offered [Learn More»]​

    🌼 Equinox Forest Bathing + Celebration Embrace the autumn equinox on September 24th with a leisurely forest bathing walk, celebrating the changing of the season. Connect with nature’s wisdom and find serenity in the transition. [Learn More»]

    Embrace the Seasonal Shift: Nature Connection Tips:

    1.  🌱Morning Moments: Start your day by taking a few deep breaths and stepping outside to greet the day. Feel the cool morning air and listen to the gentle rustling of leaves. It’s a simple way to begin your day grounded and connected.

    2.  🍁Nature Walks: As the leaves start to change, visit a nearby park or nature reserve for a leisurely walk. Observe the subtle shifts in colors and textures, and let the beauty of nature soothe your soul.

    3. 🌬️Mindful Breathing: Find a comfortable spot outdoors and practice mindful breathing. Inhale the crisp autumn air deeply, and with each exhale, release any tensions and worries.

    4.  📝Seasonal Reflection: Embracing the changing seasons often prompts personal reflection. Just as nature sheds its leaves, we too can consider what we’re ready to let go of in our own lives. What are the aspects, habits, or thoughts you’re prepared to release, making room for growth and transformation? Take a few minutes this month to your thoughts on this season of renewal and release.

    If you’d like to take your nature connection practice to the next level, join us for one of our upcoming Forest Bathing and Nature Therapy eventsWe’ll be exploring the natural world together, learning about the healing power of nature, and connecting with the beauty of the outdoors.

    What I’m up to lately…

    🎙️Introducing “Peace of Presence” Podcast:

    Speaking of embracing change, I’m thrilled to share a teaser about something I’ve been working on—my new podcast, “Peace of Presence.” Through insightful conversations, we’ll explore pathways to cultivating more presence in our daily lives and discuss the profound impact mindfulness, creative expression, and nature have on our health and well-being. Get ready for inspiring stories, expert insights, and practical tips to cultivate a more present, easeful, and connected life.

    Stay tuned for more details and announcements about the podcast’s launch in the coming months!

    New Peace of Presence Podcast:
    Through insightful conversations, we’ll explore pathways to cultivating more presence in our daily lives and discuss the profound impact mindfulness, creative expression, and nature have on our health and well-being.

    Terrain Magazine Feature:

    Terrain Magazine Article - Dive Into your Senses - Forest Bathing

    I’m excited to share some fantastic news! I recently had the honor of being featured in the September/October issue of ​Terrain magazine​ in an article that explores the wonders of forest bathing and the deep connection we can forge with nature. It’s a testament to the power of presence and the healing embrace of the natural world. If you’d like to read the article and gain insights into the art of forest bathing, you can find it on page 24 of the digital version of the magazine here: [​Terrain Magazine – Page 24»​].

    Sweet Success & Transformative Opportunity:

    I’m over the moon to share that I’ve achieved National Board Certification and accreditation for Health & Wellness Coaching! As part of this milestone, I’m offering free ​Nature-based Wellness Discovery Sessions​, a complimentary 45-minute journey designed to offer you a glimpse into the transformative potential of collaborative health coaching. During our conversation, we’ll dive into your unique health landscape, pinpointing challenges and opportunities for growth. My aim is to provide you with insights and clarity to empower your well-being journey, right from the very start. Our time together will be a meaningful step forward on your path to thriving health. Let’s uncover what’s possible for you! ​Book Here »​

    » Where can you fit nature connection into your day? «

    🍃As the seasons dance and change, I invite you to join me in celebrating the beauty of nature’s transitions and the magic they bring into our lives. I look forward to connecting with you at the upcoming events and through the exciting journey of the “Peace of Presence” podcast. 🙌

    🫶I hope this share was helpful for you drop a comment below and let me know what you’re ready to release this autumn!

    In Peace & Presence,
    🌿 Jess

  • 🌳🌞 Summer Nature Therapy Tips

    5 min Read

    The summertime is in full swing and even though the temperature is rising, that doesn’t mean you have to give up your nature connection practice. In fact, you may need it more than ever now, especially if you’re facing new schedules or routines, making conscious lifestyle changes or have the kids home from school.

    Don’t worry, I’ve got your back! Here are some tips for maintaining a nature connection during the summer months:

    4 Summertime Forest Bathing & Nature Therapy Tips

    1. 🌅 Get out early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun isn’t as intense.
    2. 🌳 Seek out shady spots. Look for trees, shrubs, or other areas of shade to keep cool while still connecting with nature.
    3. ​🌊 Cool off by the water. Whether it’s a lake, river, or ocean, the water can be a great way to relax and get in touch with nature.
    4. ​🏡 Create a nature connection spot in your backyard. Plant some flowers or set up a hammock and simply enjoy the natural sounds and beauty of your own space.

    If you’d like to take your nature connection practice to the next level, join us for one of our upcoming Forest Bathing and Nature Therapy eventsWe’ll be exploring the natural world together, learning about the healing power of nature, and connecting with the beauty of the outdoors.

    What I’m up to lately…

    👩‍🎓 Becoming Nationally Board Certified in Health Coaching

    Right now I’m knee deep in study and preparation to sit for the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching Board Certification Exam next week. You haven’t heard much from me over the past few months as I’ve been taking multiple coaching trainings and logging the necessary coaching hours to be eligible to sit for the exam.

    I won’t lie, it’s been rough. There were many moments I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to meet all the requirements in time for the July exam. Those were the moments I turned to the land and nature for support. I am so grateful to have nature connection practices to lean on in times of overwhelm and stress.

    With all I was juggling between classes and trainings, client work for my other business, Urban Forest Therapy events, coaching clients and family life (including getting covid) my nature therapy practice didn’t look perfect.

    In fact, many days all I could do was squeeze in short breaks sitting in my backyard beneath the oak tree or laying in the grass in my front yard (I no longer care what my neighbors think btw) but it was enough to give me the boost and restoration I needed to keep going.

    I share this because I know I sometimes, I feel  like I’ve got to get the practice “just right” in order for it to be effective. 

    What I’ve found to be true is that it’s more important to be consistent than it is to do it “just right”. 

    What I’ve found to be true is that it’s more important to be consistent than it is to do it “just right”. Whether it’s your meditation, yoga, exercise, diet or forest & nature therapy practice. 15, 10 or even just 5 minutes of consistent nature connection has the power to transform your mood, energy level, attention and sense of wellbeing.

    » Where can you fit nature connection into your day? «

    🌈 I hope this share was helpful for you drop a comment below and let me know how your summer nature connection is going!

    Stay cool and stay connected to nature!
    🌿 Jess

  • 🌞 Ways to Celebrate Summer Solstice that Deepen Your Connection with Nature & Yourself

    4 min Read

    Happy Summer Solstice! The seasons are changing again and it’s a great time to take a step back to reflect on the season of life you’re in and consider how you can work with nature’s natural rhythms best to support yourself.

    As we move closer to the sun, I invite you to use this opportunity to deepen your connection with yourself and nurture your spirit 💚✨

    Here are some easy ways you can turn inward to reflect and celebrate the Summer Solstice with nature.

    Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice that deepen your connection with nature & yourself

    ☀️ Step outside, close your eyes and feel the warmth of the sun and the earth beneath your feet.

    Receive the gifts of the season by taking time to get outdoors & be with the sun.

    🥾 Take a mindful walk in a natural setting.

    Tune into the rhythm of the season & recognize the beauty of the nature around you.

    May the energy of the Solstice help you to balance, release, & recharge. 🫶

    🌻 Gather seasonal flowers or herbs to create a natural centerpiece or altar.

    This creates a visual reminder to honor the Sun’s life-giving energy.

    🌅 Soak up the sun during the day and watch the sunset.

    Take in the full spectrum of beauty the sun has to offer throughout the day.

    😌 Take a pause to reflect on all that you’re grateful for.

    This is a great way to focus your attention on the present moment and come into alignment with the abundance of the season.

  • 🌿🫶 Sunday Self Care: Forest Bathing to manage holiday stress

    Are you starting to stress about the upcoming holiday season, aka stress and anxiety season as I like to call it?

    I know I am 🥴.

    When I start to feel overwhelmed, anxious or overridden by my emotions, I take it as a sign that I need to slow down and get outside.

    If you’re starting to feel the holiday season whirlwind of emotions creep in, I invite you to take some time today to sneak in some self-care before the holiday craziness begins.

    Here is a simple, easy practice you can implement to reduce stress, soothe your nervous system and manage anxiety.

    🌿 Sit Spot practice

    Find a sit spot:​
    A sit spot is a location you can return to over and over. Find a spot outside where you feel comfortable. It doesn’t need to be deep in the woods but it is ideal to have some greenery around you. I have a few sit spots, one in my backyard, the front yard, and a few different spots at my favorite local parks. Convenience is key. You want this to be a spot you can visit repeatedly and as frequently as you want. A simple patch of grass by the sidewalk will do or you can even find a spot inside with a houseplant if going outside isn’t an option. You can sit or lie down, be in a chair, or be on the ground. Make yourself comfortable.

    ​The practice:​
    Spend 30 minutes simply sitting and observing all that is around you in your sit spot. The practice of simply sitting and observing is where mother nature invites peace & presence in. I know this sounds crazy and the biggest obstacle will be giving yourself permission to just sit. You may have an edge around “just sitting” for that long so feel free to start with 10 or 15 minutes and build your way up. I promise it will be worth it.

    Once you’re comfortable, begin to call in all your senses. Start with your sense of direction. Is there a particular direction you want to face while in your sit spot? Play around with this as though your body is a radio and you are tuning in to the direction that feels just right for you.

    Once settled, don’t just observe with your eyes but try observing with your ears. What noises do you hear? How close or far away are the sounds? Tune into your sense of smell. Are you picking up any scents? What about taste? Can you breathe in as though sipping air through a straw and pick up any tastes?

    Try simply sitting. Just sitting is also enough.

    Extra Credit:

    Sit Spot + Nature Journal
    ​Create or purchase a journal to record observations at your sit spot. It doesn’t have to be fancy or special, it can be paper stapled together. Creating a journal can be part of the process (kids especially love this). After spending 20 minutes in your sit spot use the remaining time to record in your nature journal. This can take many forms: written, sketched, poetry, prose, photos, voice recordings, videos, and collected objects. Whatever feels best for you.

    ​Journaling Ideas:​
    There are no rules or requirements for your nature journal. You might want to record some observations about nature; what the weather is like, what sounds you hear from the trees or other plants nearby, what the clouds are like, and what patterns or textures you see.

    You may want to record what’s happening inside you. Your mood, any inspirations or insights that come to you.

    You can record what you pick up with your senses, what you hear, smell, feel, and taste. Maybe try assigning a color to each sound, texture, smell, etc, and see what unfolds.

    You can craft a story based on what you observed. Make up a storyline to go with your observations using your imagination.

    The goal here is expression, not perfection.

    ​Cultivate your practice:
    ​This is a practice. There is no end destination or end goal, it’s really a matter of finding the right amount of time that fits your schedule. Aim for a weekly session and see how that feels. Consistency is key.

    You might not think this small practice would have a big impact but I promise you it will. When we can be still and just witness what is going on around us in nature, something opens up inside us. We start to shift perspective. We start to feel more connected to our world, others, and ourselves.

    Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

  • What does Urban Forest Therapy look like?

    2 min read

    I let my eyes look at the fallen petals
    on the sidewalk as though I was in a museum,
    taking in an abstract piece of art.

    You can practice forest therapy anywhere.

    Despite feeling like I had a lot to get done today (and “didn’t have time”), I took a short walk around my city neighborhood.

    I couldn’t help but slow down as I started to see tiny pink petals appear beneath my feet and realized I was approaching a beautiful blooming tree.

    I let my eyes look at the fallen petals on the sidewalk as though I was in a museum, taking in an abstract piece of art.

    I paused to tune into the sensations under my feet. I felt the soft, squishy, slippery petals and noticed the contrast between how the petals felt compared to the grittiness of the sidewalk.

    I stepped around in it, noticing how the airy petals responded to my movement. I made my own masterpiece by gliding the toe of my shoe around in the petals.

    Then I looked up at the tree. For a few minutes, I let my eyes soften and study how the petals were arranged on the tree, little bunches all the way up the branches. I let my mind look for any shapes that appeared like you do when you look at clouds in the sky. Just noticed what came to mind.

    I looked through the petals and let the blue sky take focus while the petals went soft.

    I took a deep breath to see if I could catch the scent of the blooms in the wind. A soft, sweet floral scent filled my nose.

    I took another deep breath and allowed myself to pause for one extra moment. To really be present and find peace in that moment.

    I let myself enjoy the peace of presense🕊

    I felt my body relax and started on my way.

    My walk didn’t last more than 20 minutes but I vividly remember those few moments I paused with the pink petals on the sidewalk more than any of it.

    I came back to my desk refreshed and ready to dive back into work.

    How do you connect with nature in your neighborhood?