When you spend time in nature, are you truly present? Too many of us, within seconds of arriving at a lookout, snap a few photos, hop straight back into the car and speed off to the next lookout. With a few simple strategies, we can tweak our behavior in ways that can add great value to our time spent outdoors.
Avoid the crowds
Steer clear of the biggest crowds by heading out for sunrise. Save for a few hardcore nature lovers, you’re not likely to find too many people out at this time of day. Not only is it wonderful to watch the world awaken, but it’s also often a better time to spot wildlife.
Don’t do it for the ’gram
Find peace and quiet outdoors by finding your own, never-before-Instagrammed location. When posting an image to social media, take a moment to consider why you’re posting it. Consider sharing an image of a blissful moment where you were fully present and appreciative.
Look first, snap later
Before taking your lens cap off or your phone out of your pocket, be still for a few minutes, taking in your surroundings lens-free. Slow your photography down further by considering the intention of each shot. Could there be a story to tell or a different perspective to capture?
Being in nature doesn’t automatically equate to being mindful, and the same applies to spending time alone. When we put the two together, however, there’s great mindfulness potential. But keep in mind that it takes practice to become good at quieting your mind. When traveling with a group, find moments to explore on your own, or to sit quietly and reflect—whichever brings you peace of mind.
Plan an outdoor adventure
On holidays we’re often guilty of trying to cram too much into a short period of time. A great way to slow ourselves down is to skip the checklists and schedule longer-duration activities. By committing to a longer activity, especially one we find physically or mentally challenging, we’re forced to pay close attention from moment to moment, limiting our mind from wandering to avoid unpleasant consequences.
Look, listen and feel
- Listen to the sound of your footsteps, or the strength of the wind.
- Observe the movement of the clouds.
- Notice the quality of light around you.
- Touch the smooth surface of a rock, or the soft blades of grass with your feet.
- Feel the moisture of the earth, or the thickness of the air.
- Smell the pine-filled forest, or the saltiness of the ocean.
Bring a pen and paper
Journaling can be a valuable tool for achieving mindfulness. Take along a notebook the next time you head out. Pause for a few minutes every so often to reflect on what you’re seeing or feeling in that moment. Feel free to throw punctuation and grammar down the mountain, and don’t be afraid to use pictures instead of words.