Have you ever heard of “Forest Bathing”? The first time I heard it, I thought it was weird and hippy-ish. But I have really come to love this quirky little phrase and everything it means. Being outside in any climate is so vitally important to our physical, mental and emotional health. It’s no wonder that countless doctors, philosophers, motivational speakers, health enthusiasts (the list goes on and on) recommend getting outside for at least 30 minutes a day. Ever feel stressed? Get outside. Ever feel tired late afternoon and not sure how you’re going to make it to dinner? Take a 5 minute walk outside. Ever feel anxious? Take a deep breath…outside.
Several years ago, my daughter Josie and I were walking to the library and we spotted a tree trunk that had recently been cut off. In it’s place was the most beautiful heart-shaped stump (pictured above). We thought it was amazing that symbols of love were around us, we just needed to look around to see them. We decided then that each time we were in nature, we would make sure to really look for the love, not bury our head in our phones, a book or simply rush to get things done.
That day, Josie created a beautiful activity for our family. It’s turned into our version of Forest Bathing. When my family and I are in nature (either walking to town, through a parking lot, or literally in a forest hiking) we are always on the look-out for a heart. We have found it in gum on the sidewalk, rocks in our backyard, sculptures in cities, snow crystals on a path, just about anywhere! We have been doing this for 5-ish years now and the experience of finding love in random places still gives us a sense of joy. We are not only reminded of the simple fact that love is really all around us, but we are stopping to look around and be present. Just being in nature, breathing deeply and taking in our beautiful surrounding is not only good for our body, our minds and our stress levels…it is also good for our hearts (pun intended).
Check out some of our heart findings below!