Forest Bathing International Magazine, Issue 1 - Page 36

The sense of connection I felt with this tree at the end of my semester was wonderful. I still go back to visit her once in a while, climb up in her branches, and enjoy my secret view of the park.

Roll down a hill or in the grass

This is my chocolate lab’s favorite pastime. She doesn’t care if it’s mud, snow, or just plain old grass; she LOVES to roll around on the ground. Every time she does it, everyone watching bursts out laughing and I often wonder what the heck she gets out of it. So, one day I tried it, and I think she’s really onto something. Do you remember running to the top of a hill as a child just so you could lie in the grass and roll back down again, giggling as you struggled to stand up at the bottom, swaying from dizziness? Well I’ll tell you, it’s just as much fun as an adult, especially when shared with friends, dogs, or small children.

Make a snow angel or have a snowball fight

There is nothing quite like getting all bundled up in the winter to go outside to jump in the snow. Making snow angels, having a snowball fight, or just rolling around in the powder like my dog are all great ways to play in the winter. For a lower time-commitment or for those of you who don’t like bundling up quite so much, next time it’s snowing outside, look up at the sky and try to catch a snowflake on your tongue. You might be surprised how playful this simple act can be.

Build a fort or a snow cave

I still remember the fort in the lilac bushes at my childhood friend’s house. We would go around her yard and dig up patches of moss to plant in our fort as carpeting (I’m still not sure her mother ever forgave me!). Having a secret nature place we could escape to was simply magical. As an adult, I’ve had the opportunity twice recently to do something similar. As part of my graduate wilderness therapy training, we spent an outdoor section practicing survival skills, and part of that was building a shelter – which is just a grownup word for a fort. I slept in the shelter with two of my friends that night, giggling and laughing about the dirt falling on our faces, and there was a similar sense of magic sleeping in our fort that I remember from being a child. I felt closer to nature than I ever do sleeping in a tent. The other opportunity was with a local school’s outdoor program teaching kids winter survival skills. Several parents and adults, including myself, helped the kids dig snow caves where they would spend the night that weekend. I can’t remember the last time I saw adults so excited about shoveling! And let me tell you, crawling inside a snow cave you just spent hours digging is a pretty wonderful feeling.

Jump in a mud puddle

This is your invitation to get a little dirty. If you think this is something little kids do just to frustrate their parents, think again! Don’t believe me? Just look around at the recent popularity of all the obstacle course-style races like Tough Mudder and Rugged Maniac. Their growing popularity goes to show that some things never get old, no matter how many candles crowd our birthday cake. The simple joy of getting dirty, without worrying whether we will ruin our clothes, is a great way to play and connect with nature. So go find a pair of old shoes and some clothes you’re ready to donate or throw out, and jump in a mud puddle. Go barefoot, if you trust the puddles! There’s something gratifying about the slosh and splash of muddy water, and something magical about getting messy.

Becky is a psychotherapist in private practice in Boulder, Colorado, where she offers nature-based therapy alongside more traditional (office-based) approaches. She specializes in working with stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as the many factors that lead adults to burnout (including a lack of nature connection). She offers burnout prevention workshops and groups that incorporate mindfulness and connection with nature as a treatment for stress.

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