Holiday stress relief through getting outside

The holiday season can bring unanticipated stresses as we rush about seeing friends and family, purchasing gifts, and going about our daily business. It seems the roads, gyms, yoga studios, stores and parking lots are packed at all hours of the day as everyone else is out tying up loose ends from the year, buying presents and completing their errands.

One thing that helps me to stay grounded during the holiday season is to find a quiet place to go. I lace up my shoes or boots and take a walk in nature to get away from the crowds and to immerse myself in nature.

There are many benefits to being active in the great outdoors, including stress reduction, lowering blood pressure, getting fresh air and improving your mood. My strategy during the busy holiday season is to take at least 15 minutes to get outside and appreciate nature.

Sometimes this takes the form of a run in the rain/sleet mixture, others it’s a walk in the crisp air at sunset, and others still is watching the stars light up from the hot tub once it’s dark.

In all cases, once I’m suitably away from masses of people, I take a few deep breaths and observe what is going on around me. Are the trees swaying with the wind? Can I smell pines, decaying deciduous foliage, the mud along the creek bank? Do I see any animals: squirrels, domestic cats, the bush-dwelling coyotes? Is the bear bear wandering around the lake trails?

Paying attention to the natural environment as I walk or run through the outdoors is a wonderful means of grounding myself during the holidays (and year-round). Connecting to each of the five main senses helps me be present, and to appreciate what is going on in the natural world. It’s a way to ground oneself during the busyness of the season (and anytime I’m stressed or just need a break to relax).

What do you do to find peace and quiet during the busy holiday season?

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