Self-Care: Go Into the Green (#28SelfCareHacks)

Immediately when I moved to the Berkshire Mountains in Western Mass. last Spring, I felt a change in my being. At first, I couldn’t tell what it was. I wondered if it was just the stress subsiding from a challenging move, feeling more secure as I got my feet on the ground in a new job, or just the excitement of meeting new people and being in a new place. After a few months in this inquiry, I realized what it was. My physical, mental, and spiritual Self was being renewed, rejuvenated, and healed by the beautiful nature right outside my window! With less buildings and concrete, less noise pollution, more trees and grass, cleaner air, breathtaking scenery on my commute, a lot less traffic, and outside activities available all around, I started to notice its effect on me. I love that I have to drive 45 minutes to a Target. I love that there are no big malls near me. I love that my kids now ask to go to the lake or hiking instead of the indoor kids play space where we used to live. I see the change in them too.

Part of my job at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health is to manage the Outdoor Activities including hiking, snowshoeing, kayaking, and standup paddle boarding. This has been the biggest learning curve for a Jersey Girl like me. But I have seen the way these experiences are loved by our guests. People come from all over the country and world to enjoy what we have to offer and a big part of that is the craving for nature, healing, relaxation, and connection.

Reconnecting with nature has so many benefits. Numerous studies in the U.S. and around the world are exploring the health benefits of spending time outside in nature, green spaces, and, specifically, forests. In fact, in 1982, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries even coined a term for it: shinrin-yoku. It means taking in the forest atmosphere or "forest bathing," which is found to help relieve stress and improve health. Being in green spaces boosts our mood and immunity, reduces stress, helps with focus, improves healing, and helps children reduce attention fatigue and control impulses.

Self-Care Hack #25

Go find some green. Get outside, walk amongst the trees and reconnect nature. Breathe fresh air.

I am currently reading a great book by Florence Williams called The Nature Fix: Why Being in Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative. Williams recommends “If you have time for vacation, don’t go to a city. Go to a natural area. Try to go one weekend a month. Visit a park at least once a week. Gardening is good. On urban walks, try to walk under trees, not across fields. Go to a quiet place. Near water is also good.” I know it might be cold outside but do it any way. Plus, Spring is right around the corner!

For more information on my upcoming Spring into Possibilities: A Weekend Retreat in the Berkshires,
April 11 - 14,