Can you believe we’re already well into fall?
If your day-to-day is anything like ours, your summer flew by, leaving you wondering where the time went. It’s amazing how quickly summer comes and goes, year after year.
But that’s nothing to worry about — fall at Ontario Parks is a favourite time of year for many, and for good reason!
So if you’re feeling stressed from fleeting summer, back-to-school routines, or the impending winter, this blog is sure to help you take a step back, relax, and enjoy the best time of year.
We’ve partnered with our friends at Subaru Canada to share 5 ways to practice fall mindfulness in parks:
1. Get outside
This one’s a bit of a no-brainer, but one of the best ways to relax is to get outside and take part in one of the many activities we love at Ontario Parks.
Fall is a great time of year to explore our parks whether by trail, by bike, on the water, or even from your favourite park bench.
It doesn’t need to be complicated to be relaxing. If anything it’s better to slow down, smell the air around you, take notice of the changing seasons, and enjoy the surrounding colour in the scenery that leaves (hah — get it?) us almost as quickly as it arrives.
2. Make a fall feast
Foodies know fall is a particularly special time of year, which makes for a great mindfulness moment as you cozy up in cooler weather with soups, warm pies, turkey dinners — really whatever it is that you enjoy.
Turn it into a mindfulness moment by appreciating the smells, tastes, and textures of your favourite fall foods.
Feel the soothing warmth of your bowl of soup against you hands juxtaposed to the nip in the air. Think about other creatures that are gathering up their food supplies for winter, soon to take a long nap.
Bonus points for those that deepen their connection to the environment that surrounds us and provides for us by including apples, pumpkins, and other local fall delicacies in their fall diets this season.
3. Journaling and drawing
Fall is an excellent opportunity to incorporate journaling and drawing into your mindfulness routine.
With so many amazing landscapes that offer a vibrant palette of colours, use the season as inspiration for your next drawing or journaling session.
Pay particular attention to what you’re seeing as the landscape changes. Describe how you feel when you’re surrounded by the changing landscape. Reflect on what’s happened in your life since the last time you were in a similar place.
What’s changed? What has stayed the same? What are you manifesting for yourself for the season to come?
4. Photo walking
For those looking to mix art and activity, photo walking is a fun way to get outside and mobile while appealing to the creative side of your brain.
Next time you go for a walk, whether around your home or in a park, bring your camera and focus on taking pictures of the everyday things in your life that bring you joy.
Maybe it’s a tree on your street that has always stood out to you, a neighbour’s flower beds, or the river you cross but don’t always pay attention to.
The purpose of this exercise is to take “mental” photos of the good in your life, the things that relax you, the things that are easy to ignore as we get busy while our attention is elsewhere.
We aren’t the only ones whose lives are busy in the fall.
Many of our feathered friends have spent the past few months getting ready for a big journey to warmer weather, and you have an opportunity to watch as they go by!
Birdwatching is an excellent mindfulness activity that deepens your connection with nature.
By spending time in nature looking for birds, you’ll find yourself “checking out” from the things causing you stress. Birding requires calmness and patience, which coincidentally helps relax and restore your mind.
There’s no wrong way to feel the healing effects of nature!
In reality, any time outside and in green spaces contributes to your mental and physical health, so be sure to prioritize time outside and add nature to your self-care toolkit.
As we like to say during our annual 30×30 Challenge, as little as 30 minutes per day is all you need to notice improved health and well-being!