| 7 Min Read |
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.
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 ↩