3 Ways to De-stress This Season

December 17, 2021 Angie Andrade , Manager of Therapeutic Horticulture Programs
snow berries

As the song goes, “It’s the hap-happiest season of alllll!” But is it really? With all the holiday cheer that this season brings, it can also be incredibly overwhelming and stressful. This time of year is full of shopping lists, family expectations and parties to attend that can all just be too much.  

When your holiday isn’t looking so merry and bright, take a trip outside to recharge with nature. That feeling of calm that washes over you when you breathe in the fresh air and “get away from it all” is not just in your head. Spending time outside has been scientifically proven to help reduce stress, provide clarity and rejuvenate the body and mind. It doesn’t matter where you go—to the mountains, a local park or your backyard—nature is all around. Here are three tips to help you unplug this holiday season in the great outdoors:

Use all your senses

When we engage our senses our mind chatter slows down and we are immersed in the present moment. This exercise doesn’t take long, and you don’t need any special equipment to instantly feel grounded. Take a deep, cleansing breath and start to notice:

5 things that you see: a tree, the sky, your hand, a squirrel, etc.
4 things that you can feel: clothes on your body, the sun on your face, the breeze in your hair, etc.
3 things you can hear: birds chirping, the wind rustling leaves, etc. 
2 things you can smell: the fresh air, pine needles.
1 thing you can taste: the taste in your mouth, the fresh air.

Grow a plant

If growing a whole garden seems daunting, start out with just one plant. One plant can fit on a balcony or a windowsill so there is no need for a large piece of land. When you start watering, pruning and re-potting your plant you begin to unplug from the daily stresses. Recent research has proved that there is a natural antidepressant in all living soils. The bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae, has been found to stimulate serotonin production, which help you feel relaxed and happy. So, go ahead and get your hands dirty!

Notice the details

Our natural world is full of small wonders that we can only experience when we slow down and take a close look. Notice how each tree displays a different bark texture, observe the small insects that scurry around the forest floor or watch the clouds move slowly across the sky. While observing the small things you will begin to realize that we are all part of something bigger. You will begin to see that life is more than the biggest presents and the gourmet meals of the holidays. 

snow bough

Start a new tradition this holiday season by leaving the stress and worry behind and spending some quality time in the great outdoors. 

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