Last year, I took a course that allowed me to practice an activity called nature journaling. What may have seemed like a requirement for a course at the time, actually ended up changing my entire outlook on the natural environment surrounding me. Being given the opportunity to write a nature journal for four months provided many benefits for not only myself, but for the environment as well. I will be going through what nature journaling is, its benefits, my honest experience with it, and lastly the impact I believe it can have.
Nature journaling is an activity that involves drawing or writing according to a natural environment (Peeters, 2020). Typically, one may write a nature journal by choosing a setting to go to such as a natural park, and write an entry on a designated day of the week based on any new findings. Findings can be as simple as the bark of the tree to a family of birds in a nest. The chosen finding is not as important, but instead what one may observe about it and the kind of thoughts and details they are able to write (Peeters, 2020). The process of nature journaling allows one to go deeper than the surface level of an object and instead make reflections. These reflections can consist of which of the five senses is one able to experience in the moment, what does one notice, what does one wonder about the object or scenario, and what is one reminded of at that time (Peeters, 2020). This process of nature journaling really allows one to connect with natural objects and ultimately the environment more than you would be able to if you weren’t journaling. Taking the time to reflect, note down raw thoughts, and essentially meditate during this process is bound to strengthen one’s relationship and outlook on nature (Peeters, 2020).
Now that we’ve talked about what nature journaling is, let’s discuss the various benefits this activity has. In terms of personal benefits, nature journaling can help alleviate stress and improve mental health (Peeters, 2020). This is the result of the continuous process that nature journaling consists of which includes sitting down, meditating, reflecting, all while in nature. Even just being in nature has been proven multiple times to be beneficial in terms of mental health (Weir, 2020). When this is taken one step further by nature journaling, people are able to benefit from that a lot more. On a personal note, nature journaling helped me mentally because it acted as an escape from the stresses I was facing. No matter how busy I got, I had to write a nature journal entry every week for my course. This compelled me to spend some time just being in nature and reflecting. I was nature journaling every week at a park near my house and while for many years this was always just a park, this experience provided me with a different perspective as I now come to this place when I want to experience those peaceful moments again. Nature journaling has also essentially changed how I perceive life, given that noting down the smallest of details on simple objects resulted in a newfound appreciation for the little things in life. Overall, nature journaling allows one to become connected to nature in a way they may have never been able to do so before.
Aside from personal benefits, nature journaling can benefit the environment greatly. The appreciation and connections that nature journaling is able to foster for individuals, is what continues to grow the care that people have for the environment (Peeters, 2020). I know from my experience that nature journaling was able to strengthen my love and care for nature more than any experience has been able to. When one spends months going through the process and seeing nature in a completely different lens, it opens doors to a lot of realizations at how valuable our surrounding environment is and the importance in taking care of it. Which is why I encourage you to not only attempt this activity but get others around you involved in order to make a difference. The more people get involved in activities such as nature journaling, the more attention is actually being given to the environment and its issues. If you are in an influential position in any aspect of your life such as being a teacher or being a book club member, talk about nature journaling to them! So what are you waiting for, grab a notebook and make a change.
Peeters, P. (2020, April 26). What is nature journaling? Nature Journaling Week. Retrieved July 20, 2022, from https://www.naturejournalingweek.com/blogs/what-is-nature-journaling
Weir, K. (2020, April 1). Nurtured by nature. Monitor on Psychology. Retrieved July 20, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature#:~:text=From%20a%20stroll%20through%20a,upticks%20in%20empathy%20and%20cooperation.
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