Shortened cold, gray and damp days are hardly elements that motivate us to get outside, right? We’re more inclined to associate winter as a time for rest and solitude, to repair and prepare for the spring when everything brightens and starts to bloom again.
This may all be true, but when we allow the conditions of each season to control our relationship with the natural world, our preferences may result in waiting out the “uncomfortable” for the more “comfortable” and before we know it, we can end up spending days, even months stuck inside.
When we consider the growing body of research that has advanced our
understanding of how time in nature improves our mental health and well-being, it seems worthy to reconsider a typical conditioned response that has many of us avoiding the winter climate.
Nature provides the ideal setting to observe our reactions to present moment experiences. Pause for a moment now, and imagine yourself preparing to spend the next 20-minutes outside no matter the conditions. What happens within your own internal landscape? Maybe you notice resistance, slight tension in your body, feelings of dread, maybe your mind creates negative thoughts about how this experience might unfold or excuses for why this is a bad idea? Or maybe, you welcome the proposal noticing a small burst of energy in your body and your mind is already preparing to bundle up for an adventure?
Regardless of your current relationship status with the natural world, taking into account that nature is also the ideal setting for quieting the mind, calming the body, and resetting the nervous system, one might argue that it’s a relationship worth making space for. And beyond our own benefit, research suggests that how we think about nature; our affective relationship with and the extent to which we see ourselves as part of nature has an impact on nature’s wellbeing too.
Whether it’s simply standing outside your front door to stretch and take a few full breaths of fresh air, gazing out the window to experience snowflakes gently falling to the ground, or mindfully taking a walk through your neighborhood, our hope is to encourage families to rediscover themselves in the natural world and to remind you of the richness of now when you set the intention to spend more mindful moments in the great outdoors.
JEN RAPANOS, LMSW, RCYT IS A CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHOTHERAPIST WORKING IN PRIVATE PRACTICE AND THE OWNER OF WELL-BEAN, PLLC. WELL-BEAN'S MISSION IS TO INTEGRATE SCIENCE-BASED MIND AND BODY EDUCATION AND PRACTICES INTO THE LIVES OF YOUTH THROUGH THERAPY, COMMUNITY AND SCHOOL PROGRAMMING AND TRAINING.
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