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The Peacefulness of the Great Outdoors

We have arrived at the final week of peace month! I hope you have learned something(s) that is valuable for bringing more peace into your life. Would love to hear about what your favorite week of the series was and how you are using the information to bring about more peace.

Today we will talk about how getting into the great outdoors can result in increased peacefulness.

A 2015 Stanford research study revealed that those who walked in nature experienced less anxiety and rumination, and more positive emotions, including happiness.

A Finnish research study demonstrated results consistent with what many who have been fighting to keep P.E. in the schools are already aware of: third graders who participated in moderate to vigorous outdoor activity directly correlated to better reading fluency, reading comprehensions, and arithmetic skills. Being outside restores a mind that feels depleted and aids in the development of emotional and general intelligence.

Get this – spending time in nature is making us smarter and happier! Helpful additions to a life of increased peacefulness.

Nature helps to put our stress and anxiety into perspective and context. Like nature, we are created, we are part of something much larger than ourselves. We are impermanent and so is our stress.

Being in nature is humbling and stress-relieving. It reminds us of our place in the world – small in relative to the mountains and the trees and the lakes and oceans.

Additionally, being outside helps to allow the release of cortisol, this release calms the body and mind. The benefits don’t stop there. Being in nature has been shown to increase creativity, focus, alertness. It can lead to reduced anxiety and better sleep.

Living in our present age, it could be easy to rarely step outside, to instead be inundated by walls and technology and tasks all day, every day. This way of life prompts an obsessive striving for accomplishment and working to look “perfect.”

Brief moments of disconnecting from the tasks and the perfectionism and the technology can go a long way in the pursuit of more peace. This week’s challenge is to do a mindfulness walk. Take a walk and notice what your sense experience – hear birds, feel the wind blow, notice the wildflowers.

Some other ideas for incorporating some nature time into your week: go for a hike, play in a park with the kids, run or ride a bike along walking trails, bike to work, play golf, tend to a garden, take your work or a meal outside, go fishing, meditate or do yoga in your backyard or deck, plan a picnic, or take a book or journal to a favorite outdoor area for some quiet, relaxation time.

This brings us to the end of “Peace Month.” It has been wonderful. I have loved taking this journey with you. Up next? “Purpose Month,” of course! In May, each week we will be exploring how to cultivate more purpose in your life. Before we move from peace to purpose – answer in the comments! – what is your favorite thing you learned during peace month? And what peaceful activities will you continue to practice as we move forward?

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