Spending time in nature has so many benefits for our mental and physical health benefits, for both adults and kids it can help lower stress level, reduce depression and anxiety, plus there’s the bonus of fresh air and exercise. I know myself that getting out in nature works as I personally always feel calmer and it a better mood afterwards, so it makes sense that this is a really healthy habit to get our kids into.
Spending time in nature has major health benefits. A 2019 study found that spending two hours a week in nature is associated with and overall increase in well-being.
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A Woodland Walk with Teddy.
We are very lucky to live close to a forest and we love to get out and explore, however, sometimes motivating my four year old to go on a longer walk can be hard. So I love to play games, get creative and take some friends with us to make the walk easier and more playful. Once we get going my son usually get into the flow of nature and then I have to persuade him to leave, but its always helpful to have a few ideas of things we can do if we need them. This week we took Meddy Teddy on our adventure with us, he’s very flexible and perfect for trying out fun yoga poses, so we were excited to see what he would get up to.
Below are 5 fun activities to try on your next walk in nature, they don’t have to take long but can be great for a moment of calm, exploration or even a giggle or two.
1. Use your Senses
Using our senses is a calming, grounding mindful activity which can help use to appreciate being in the present moment and savour the positive emotions that we are experiencing. You can choose to just use your senses and just see what you discover, a sort of scavenger hunt, or choose to focus on a certain object like a flower or tree.
Feel – What can you touch? How does it feel? Is it rough or smooth? Wet or dry? Soft or hard?
Smell – What does the forest smell like? Can you describe it? What other smells can you find?
Look – Use your sense of sight to really look and notice the little details around you. How tall are the trees? How many different colours can you spot? Collect and examine the different shaped leaves.
Listen – Listen out for sounds such as the whisper of wind, rustle of leaves, songs of a bird and the sound of streams. Sit still and notice what you can hear.
2. Try a Tree Pose
The balancing Tree Pose, creates focus, concentration, grounding and stability while calming the mind.
To try a tree Pose, firmly plant your feet to the ground, Imagine strong roots growing in the ground and then pop your arms in the sky, these are your branches and then put your foot turned inwards some where below your knee. You can read about The Dancing Trees game here.
3. Hug a Tree
Yes, really hug a tree! Hugging a tree increases levels of hormone oxytocin. This hormone is responsible for feeling calm and emotional bonding. When hugging a tree, the hormones serotonin and dopamine make you feel happier.
“When you hug [a tree], you feel it first in your toes and then up your legs and into your chest and then up into your head.”forest ranger, Þór Þorfinnsson
4. Get Arty with Nature
Making art in nature is so simple, fun, free. Kids love being outside exploring, collecting the natural resources is just as fun as making the art and using their imaginations.
You will need natural items such as (but not exclusively):
• Small branches of greenery
• Anything else you fancy
Place your nature items in a pile and arrange them in pictures and patterns. There are no rules for what to create, anything goes!
5. Take a Leaf Breath
Did you know, the freshest air you can breathe is under a tree. This is because a trees leaves serve as filters of the the air, removing dust and providing you with cleaner air. So find a good spot, maybe a nice comfy log and take a big breath.
You could even try using our leaf breaths activity and take some leaves home to practice.
By the end of our walk we had, had a lot of fun and as predicted it was then hard getting my boy out of the woods, but we definitely left feeling calmer, happier and more relaxed.
So what do you think of these 5 nature activities? Does anyone else enjoy using these activities or others on their nature adventures?
Leave you thoughts in the comments below, I really love to hear from you!
Some of our fun Breathing Activities
The 3 Mindful Hand Exercises for Calm Kids are a great way for children to be introduced to mindfulness.
Flower breaths help kids bloom! This beautiful breathing exercise encourages children to learn that just like a flower that they are unique
Rainbow breaths exercise is a playful breathing technique, which includes using the breath, visualisation and mindful movement.