Back to Nature: Finding Serenity in the Great Outdoors
As the days get warmer, do you think about getting outdoors more, but then have trouble actually following through? If you feel overworked and stressed, it’s time to find your inner peace again. But how can you find serenity in a calamitous world?
Take a deep breath and head outdoors to your favorite national park, local walking trail, bird estuary, or forest. You’ll recapture your sense of calm when you spend some time in nature.
Follow these tips:
- Be comfortable. Dress comfortably and be sure to take plenty of beverages and snacks. This is easy if you carry a small backpack to your special nature spot. Remember to wear comfortable walking shoes and dress in layers.
- Avoid distractions. If you take your cell phone, turn it on silent mode to avoid being distracted by notifications. For now, focus on the full experience of being in the park or forest.
- Walk on well-marked paths. If you know me, you know why I had to put this one on the list! Make sure you can find your way back.
- Forget about the noise going on in your head. Allow the stressful thoughts to float away. It may help to imagine them floating through your mind like clouds in the sky. Try to let go of all the pressures. You’re in one of your favorite places now. No worries exist there!
- Listen to the sounds that surround you. Maybe the trees are rustling in the wind, the birds are singing, or you hear an animal call.
- Use visual cues to relax. Leave your world behind. Look around and notice all the green trees. See the dirt path, the tiny ants crawling on a log, and the dew.
- Steep yourself in the smells of your surroundings. What is that fragrance? A hint of honeysuckle? The woodsy fragrance of pine? Breathe in and breathe out consciously.
- The tactile sensations come next. Are the leaves of a bush lightly brushing your arms? Are you challenged to keep your footing on the bumpy path? Physically coming into contact with nature is an important part of the experience, in addition to the sights, sounds, and smells.
- Look for the critters in the woods. Maybe you’ll spot a raccoon or a squirrel. Observing other mammals is fascinating and you’ll learn something every time you watch an animal.
- Notice the birdcalls. Perhaps two or more birds are talking to one another.
- Be aware of what the air feels like. You can most likely tell that Spring is here. It’s often a clean, fresh, crisp feeling with a hint of warmth here in the Shenandoah Valley. Maybe the sun is shining or perhaps you’re deep in a thicket of trees where it’s dark and mossy.
- Visit a pine forest. If you’re lucky enough to live within driving distance of a pine tree forest, consider visiting this awesome example of nature’s zen experiences. Sit down on a bed of pine needles and just be.
- Practice gratitude. What are you grateful for in your life? Focus on the simple things. “I love my chair in the living room with my books piled high next to it.” “I’m grateful for the sunset I see each evening from my kitchen window.” “I’m grateful for having eyes to see and hands that work for me.”
- Reflect on your accomplishments. Toward the end of your nature visit, give yourself a pat on the back for a difficult situation you’ve made it through recently.
- Enjoy the peace. Realize that right at this moment, you feel a sense of calm, peacefulness, and serenity that you can return to any time you want, simply by visiting this wonderful corner of nature.
Immerse yourself in the experiences of nature. Allow yourself to be keenly aware of the sights, sounds, smells, and atmosphere around you. No matter where your favorite outdoor spots are, visit them regularly to return to what’s most important: You!
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