Beat the Winter Blues with Three Nature-based Activities

Is the cold and dark of winter getting you down? While we can’t change the weather or amount of daylight, there are ways we can boost our mood and energy levels. Sarah, our Stewardship Coordinator, shares some easy, accessible and therapeutic nature-based activities to help you beat those winter blues.

 

The practice of using nature as a way to cultivate healing and promote mental and physical well-being is not new – it has played a role in people’s lives since ancient times. In the western part of the world, we coin this therapeutic practice in many ways, including (but not limited to) nature therapy, ecotherapy, green therapy and horticultural therapy. 

What makes this type of therapeutic practice unique from other forms of treatment? It boils down to the use of nature and natural materials to stimulate your mind and senses, exercise the body and channel the healing powers of the natural world. 

While the call to hibernate is real, there are many ways that we can still engage with and feel the boosting benefits of nature in the winter. Here are three easy and accessible nature-based activities to help you beat those winter blues.

 

Ice Suncatcher
Harness the sun’s positive energy with this icy creation. 
 
 
Materials: a variety of natural items, such as berries, twigs, seeds, evergreen needles; something to use as a mold, such as a plastic lid or pie plate; string; water; and below freezing temperatures!
Steps:
  1. Head outside and spend some time gathering your natural materials.
  2. Lay out your suncatcher mold on a flat surface and fill it with water. 
  3. Carefully add your natural elements to the water in any design of your choosing.
  4. Place a loop of string toward the edge of your suncatcher for hanging.
  5. Leave it outside in a safe place for a few hours or overnight to freeze.
  6. Once frozen, gently remove the ice suncatcher from your mold and hang it on a tree, windowsill, or balcony and enjoy the shimmer of winter!

 

Winter Pocket Sachet 
Alleviate your stress by indulging in the scents of winter.
 
 
Materials: a variety of coniferous twigs; a small square piece of fabric; and ribbon. 
Steps:
  1. Explore the winter landscape and gather a few small, aromatic, coniferous twigs, like eastern white cedar (Thuja Occidentalis), eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and/or white spruce (Picea glauca). 
  2. Remove the needles from the woody twig and break into smaller pieces, if necessary.
  3. Bundle the needles together within your piece of fabric and tie off with your ribbon. 
  4. Keep the sachet close to you, like in your coat pocket, and smell it when you need a little sensory boost!

 

Subzero Sound Map
Connect with nature through this calming and contemplative experience.

 
Materials: a notebook and a pen or pencil.
Steps:
  1. Go outdoors and find a peaceful and comfortable spot to sit.
  2. Start your sound map by drawing yourself in the middle of a blank sheet of paper.
  3. Stay silent and still for a short while (try 5 minutes). Tap into your sense of hearing and tune into the winter sounds around you.
  4. Record the sounds you hear (through words, drawings or symbols) and where they are coming from on your sound map (e.g. birds singing above or to your left side).
  5. Keep your winter sound map as a reminder to slow down and tune in!

 

We hope these nature-based activities will bring you warmth and brightness this winter season!

Please practice respect for nature as you gather your natural materials, collecting items that have already fallen to the ground and picking only from overly abundant areas. Be mindful of harvesting any toxic or harmful plants. 

 

Sarah Halonen is the Stewardship Coordinator at LEAF.
 

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