Summer is about halfway over, but only recently began heating up here in Portland. This means that many people will be headed out to enjoy all of the incredible natural spaces offered by the Pacific Northwest.
Whether you are camping, hiking, rafting, or just having lunch in the park, surrounding oneself with nature offers definite health benefits including:
Lowered blood pressure
Accelerated recovery from injury or illness
Bettered immune system
So, there are many reasons to get outside and soak up some nature.
Five Suggestions for Enjoying the Natural World
Are you ready to explore natural spaces? You can do so, even if you have very little time. Here are five suggestions you can use as you seek out nature this summer:
1. Enjoy outdoor crafts with your child.
Spending time outside and seeing the world through the eyes of a child is always refreshing. So, if you have kids, nieces, nephews, godchildren, or friends with kids - spend some time in the park, backyard, beach, or campground with them. Try out kid-friendly activities like pressing flowers, creating rock art, building a sand castle, or going on a scavenger hunt. Visiting outdoor spaces and spreading joy as you do so is a wonderful way to connect with nature.
2. Visit a park during your lunch break.
Portland has over 3,500 parks, so it’s likely that there is one near to your workplace. That means you can take some time during your day to enjoy a nearby natural space. Try packing a lunch and eating it in one of these spaces, taking a walk in a park, or simply sitting and practicing deep breathing among the trees.
3. Spend some time on the water.
Our city is bordered by two rivers and contains a ton of streams, creeks, ponds, and lakes. Additionally, the Pacific Northwest has many gorgeous lakes and rivers we can all enjoy. Try spending some time at the coast or on a river or lake this summer. The cool water will help you beat the heat and can also help you achieve a “blue mindset.” This is the calm, contemplative mindset that many of us enjoy while on the water and allows one to slip into meditation more easily.
4. Take a moment to meditate.
Even if the only nature you experience is your own backyard, immersing yourself in the space can be calming. Take advantage of lovely, peaceful areas to practice some deep breathing and meditation. Here are a few quick tips for enjoying a meditative state in a natural space:
Go tech-free/turn off your phone when in a natural space of your choice (this can be anywhere from a campground or the coast to your backyard or the International Rose Test Garden.)
Find a comfortable position sitting, lying down, or standing.
Close your eyes.
Let your mind drift. As thoughts try to crowd into your head, try to let them go without focusing too hard on any one thing. It may help you to open your eyes and focus on one thing like a flower or blade of grass - or to repeat a mantra.
Enjoy a few moments of peace.
5. Enjoy yoga, tai chi, or qigong in the park.
One way to get outdoors is to take your workout into a beautiful natural space. Try practicing your yoga, tai chi, or qigong in your local park. If it’s a hot day, work beneath trees or near a body of water to stay cool. And remember, bring plenty of water with you!
Are you hoping to improve your health, naturally? Make an appointment here at AOM Health. I look forward to working with you on your health journey.