3 Ways Nature can Have a Calming
Influence on Children
Everyone, no matter their age, can benefit from spending more time in nature. The great outdoors can help to improve our mood, relieve stress and get us moving our bodies to protect our physical health. One of nature's biggest benefits for children is its calming influence. A day out in a natural environment can work wonders for a stressed, anxious or hyperactive child. Here are three ways that nature can instill calm in your little ones.
1. Natural environments can support mindfulness practice
Getting out in nature is a brilliant way to encourage kids to enjoy a quiet environment and become more mindful and observant of the world around them. Mindfulness is the process of being present in a moment, recognizing the sights, sounds, smells and sensations around you, slowing down busy thoughts and soothing high emotions. Practicing mindfulness with kids can help them to reduce stress and anxiety levels and increase their ability to focus.
It can be tough for kids to practice sitting still and being quiet, so turn mindfulness into an interactive activity to get them engaged with it. Give them a piece of paper and a pencil and ask them to write down all the sounds they can hear while sitting silently in a natural environment for a defined length of time. If you practice this activity regularly, kids can learn to recognize noises and listen out for them whenever they're out in nature in the future. This is a great way for them to learn the value of being quiet, observant and mindful of the world around them.
2. Exploring in nature can increase physical activity and relieve stress
When children are out in nature, they have plenty of room to run, climb, jump, chase and generally get their bodies moving. Physical activity is essential for good health, but it can have a particularly positive impact on relieving stress. Research has found that children who exercise on a regular basis are more capable of managing their stress levels than those who don't. Plus, they tend to have greater levels of happiness, lower levels of anxiety and greater self-confidence.
Children can exercise and get active almost anywhere, but it can be difficult to encourage kids to get moving when they're at home. Many children turn to phones, tablets and laptops for entertainment and when these devices are so close to hand at home, it can take a lot of willpower to put them aside and get active. When you take kids out of the house and into a natural environment, it can be easier to get them to take a break from their screens. Plus, many kids feel naturally inspired to get active when there's a new environment to explore.
3. Nature provides opportunities for soothing sensory play
Sensory play focuses on games and activities that engage the senses. Not only does sensory play work to stimulate sight, sound, smell and touch, but also awareness of one's own body and the ability to balance.
Sensory play is integral to child development because it supports the growth of nerve connections in brain pathways. Language skills, motor skills and problem-solving skills are all supported and developed with the help of sensory play. Certain sensations can also help to stimulate us when we're feeling low in energy, and others help to calm and focus us when we're feeling hyperactive, restless or overwhelmed.
Natural environments offer a wealth of sensory experiences for children. There are lots of different textures, sounds, smells, colors and shapes to explore. Kids have plenty of opportunities to practice balance and develop motor skills when climbing trees, clambering over rocks and logs, or walking on different types of ground. Children who are susceptible to stress, anxiety or overstimulation might find that the sensory experiences they have outdoors can help them to feel calmer and more relaxed.
Both children and adults alike can benefit from the soothing influence of nature. Prioritize spending time in the great outdoors to find peace, quiet and calm for the whole family.