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Mindfulness in nature

Mindfulness in nature

Spending time in nature is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness, says Dennis Buttimer, M.Ed, CEAP, RYT, CHC, a life and wellness coach at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont. Breathing fresh air, enjoying a serene environment and taking time to notice the sights, smells, and sounds of the great outdoors can do wonders for your mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

“In nature, everything is an occasion to practice mindfulness,” says Buttimer. “It’s an opportunity to be still, listen to the birds, hear the crunch of leaves under your feet, feel the cool breeze, watch the rippling water. There are so many opportunities you could miss if you aren’t present.”

Mindfulness benefits of nature

  • Fewer distractions. When you spend time outdoors, whether on a hike or at the beach, you probably aren’t taking a conference call, scrolling through social media or responding to emails. When you put down your electronic devices and take a break from being “on,” you’re likely to notice your anxiety melting away.

  • A boost of feel-good hormones. “When you’re breathing in plenty of oxygen, you’re increasing your levels of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone,” says Buttimer. 

  • Less stress. “Not only can your body relax while spending time in nature, your mind has a chance to settle down and move away from fear, stress and multitasking, which allows you to be present,” he says.

  • More focus. If you’re on a hike, for example, you must pay attention to where you are going, which requires mindfulness and focus that we don’t often practice in our daily activities as we multitask.

  • Increased awareness of your thoughts. “Wherever you are, whether on a nature trail, in a forest or at the beach, stop and observe what is around you,” he says. “Observe how you feel and what you are doing in that moment. Look at where your mind is going and what thoughts you are thinking. Our mind can be our greatest ally or our worst enemy.”

  • Physical healing. “When the body is relaxed, healing can take place,” says Buttimer. And when you take your workout outdoors, you can expect plenty of benefits.

Learn more ways to support your mental and emotional well-being.

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