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Opinion / Partnerships and Building Relationships / Sustainability

An Invitation to Unplug: 4 Nature-Based Activities

woman enjoying nature-based relaxation sitting on a park bench
This month, Healthier Generation is celebrating Park and Recreation Month and the essential role greenspace plays in making our lives better.

For example, did you know that trees can reduce anxiety and taking a walk outside can provide grounding and self-awareness when conflict arises? Today, I want to invite you to unplug and take a mindfulness break with me. We’re going to use Healthier Generation’s new Nature-Based BINGO Card. It’s a resource you can share with families, but for today, I want us to use it together to practice educator self-care.

Rather than sit at your computer, pull this article up on your phone or print it, and head outside or to the nearest window. Once outdoors, find a safe and comfortable spot to sit or stand (no reading while walking, please).

1. Find natural objects in each color of the rainbow

Take a few deep breaths and look around you. What colors do you see? Try to find a natural object in every color of the rainbow. Next, find objects with different textures (e.g. fuzzy, smooth, prickly). Each time you find an object, take a big deep breath. Maybe even think of something you are grateful for — the warm sun, fresh air, or that second cup of coffee.

2. Count how many shapes you see in the clouds

What’s the opposite of a spreadsheet or an overflowing inbox? The blue sky and fluffy clouds, of course. Sit as still as you possibly can, look away from any screens and into the clouds. What do you see? Each time you find something, take a deep breath. Today, I found a dragon, a whale, a giraffe, and Puerto Rico — what did you find?

3. Practice some yoga poses in your favorite outdoor spot

You don’t have to be flexible or have a fancy mat to do these moves. Just remember the letters, I, Y, and T.

If you’re seated or standing, stretch your body in the shape of an I and reach for the sky. Take a big deep breath — slowly let it out.

Now, do the same but move your arms in the shape of a Y. Take another big deep breath — this time, let it out even slower.

Finally, stretch your arms wide in the shape of a T. Maybe even flex your fingers and hands if that feels good. Take one more big deep breath — now, let it out as slow as possible.

Feel free to do the I, Y, and T stretches as many times as you like, and adapt it as needed.

*Special thanks to Lakeshore Foundation for the I-Y-T idea!

4. Find 3 different types of birds or insects

If you can safely close your eyes, do so and listen to the sounds around you. What do you hear? Are birds singing a song or maybe insects are chirping? When you open your eyes, try to find what was making the sounds you heard — how many types of birds or insects can you spot? No need to know their exact name, just appreciate them for their differences.


How do you feel after taking a short mindfulness break in or near nature?

How might you adapt these activities to include other senses?

How can observing nature help us when we feel isolated or alone?

How might you encourage your teammates to unplug and take a break during the day?

Next Steps

As you head back inside, consider how you can help others access safe greenspaces. Our friends at the National Recreation and Park Association have tools to help you advocate for others.

If you want even more ideas to stay active and mindful this summer, visit Healthier Generation’s Moving More at Home resource page.

For breakfast, I had watermelon and pineapple.

Author: @danielh

*Kudos to my teammates Yasemin and Megan for their creative ideas that supported this article.

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