Nature Journaling Reduces Stress - U of I Extension

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Nature Journaling Reduces Stress

This article was originally published on September 30, 2017 and expired on October 7, 2017. It is provided here for archival purposes and may contain dated information.

I’ve mentioned many times that I love to journal, and I usually write surrounded by plants and nature. I use nature journaling as a creative form of self-expression, but I find that it also promotes relaxation and calmness.

Many people journal. In its most basic form, journaling is a daily record of news and events that happen in a person’s life. Writing down our day-to-day happenings saves that information in an organized manner and helps us remember it later. I’ve been journaling since I was a teenager, and my family often enjoys reading my old entries, reminding us of fun family times.

Nature journaling provides all this and much more. We all intuitively know that being in nature makes us happy. In fact, research shows that spending just 20 minutes in nature can promote health and well-being. Journaling while surrounded by nature allows us to slow down and see the natural world from a different perspective.

Relaxing in nature provides mental and emotional clarity to express our private experiences, thoughts, and feelings. While doing this, we begin to relax, thus enhancing the outdoor experiences even more. After all, have you ever stayed in a bad mood while surrounded by nature? Journal takes that positive experience to a deeper level and makes it last longer.

Journaling is not difficult to do. You don’t have to write a magazine-quality short story, just write what you see and feel. Over time we all develop our own style that works for us. Although most people journal with pen and paper, there are no rules. Some people prefer to blog, scrapbook, tweet, or use a smart-device writing app. You could also express those same thoughts through music, art, pictures, videos, and more. Be creative. Adding sketches and pictures makes the nature journal even more meaningful.

I admit there are times when I have a bit of writer's block while journaling. Although I usually write my general observations, sometimes I do come up with witty, inspirational thoughts. It is often surprising what inspirational ideas I find while in nature.

There are many writing techniques to help inspire our nature journaling activity. Start with the facts by writing down the date, weather conditions, and journaling location. Then sketch or write down your observations of that place. What do you see? What does it remind you of? Does it make you wonder or ask questions? 

You’ll find more writing ideas and examples from my nature journals on my ILRiverHort blog at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/fmpt/.

 On a related topic, learn about the therapeutic benefits of gardening from Horticulture Educator Candice Miller during her Gardening as Therapy webinar. It is presented for live home viewing on October 3 at 1:30 p.m. and again on October 5 at 6:30 p.m. Following the session, a taped version is available on YouTube. Registration and YouTube information are found at go.illinois.edu/4seasons_webinars

Source: Rhonda J. Ferree, Extension Educator, Horticulture, ferreer@illinois.edu

Pull date: October 7, 2017