Connecting to Ourselves Outdoors
By: Sarah Kent Outreach Manager at Nature Center at the Summit
My job is to interact with guests of the park and teach them fun things about the natural world, and right now- at home. The most important thing to me when I do a program is connection. It's my goal to connect the public with something that maybe they haven’t noticed before, and inspire curiosity.
For me, one way to connect with nature is forest bathing. Forest bathing is the act of going outside and being still, maybe just for 5 minutes to “bathe” in the world around you. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to travel to a park, you could sit on your steps, balcony, or backyard- whatever you safely have access to. Just take a few slow breaths and listen to what is around you. Sure you might hear cars zooming past, but what else do you hear? Birds chirping? Do you hear the breeze rustling the leaves? Or maybe squirrels chittering at each other in a tree? What do you feel on your skin? The warmth of the sunshine or the cool spring wind? What do you smell? Spring flowers, rotting logs, or actinomycetes (the bacteria that cause the rain smell)? Can you taste the sweetness of the grass after a fresh cut?
If you would like to take it a step further, there are a couple options you can add to enhance your forest bathing. Bring a notebook or sketchbook to describe your experience. Go for a walk or hike on a trail. Bring activities you would normally do inside outside, such as a picnic, listening to music, reading a book, or even watching Netflix! If you’re nerdy like me, bring an ID book and forage for food or identify every beetle you come across.
Whatever your preference, being outdoors is for everyone and can be experienced through a variety of different ways. Sometimes that’s all it takes to feel a stronger connection with yourself.
Sarah Kent has been involved and interested in nature her entire life leading to adventures as a naturalist across the continent at places such as Orcas island, WA, Monteverde, Costa Rica, and now the Summit Center through Hamilton Great Parks. For programs and activities with Sarah check out https://www.greatparks.org/parks/nature-center-at-the-summit !
This blog post is one of a series connecting mental health practices of other professionals. Check out previous blogs and stay tuned for more! Is there a topic or profession you'd like to hear? Comment and let us know below!