It's that time of year, friends, when your already-busy schedule goes into overdrive.  Holidays, traveling, shopping, dinner parties, entertaining, cooking, cooking and more cooking!  Did anyone else just have to take a deep breath?

There is no way around it, the holidays are hectic.  Before you know it, you'll be moving full speed ahead with an ever-growing to do list and a mountain of things you're behind on.  But, before things go haywire, we wanted to take a moment to stop and recognize this calm before the storm.  It's all too easy to barrel into things blindly, while vowing to keep your head down until it's all over and done with.  But, that's no way to enter the new year.  Instead, we wanted to encourage you to get outside and make some moments for yourself in nature, so that you will be better equipped (mentally and physically) to handle this coming season with calm.

We get it, you don't have time.  Neither do we.  But, the secret truth is, we actually do have time-- we just aren't always the best at prioritizing doing "nothing" over doing everything (all at once).  So!  We decided to dive into some of the reasons why intentional down time in nature is so important.  In pursuing these reminders, we emerged motivated, encouraged and determined to create a more mindful holiday season for ourselves and, in turn, each other.  And Step 1 begins right now!  Take a deep breath, walk yourself to a quiet spot outside and read along with us about the amazing and amazingly accessible benefits of nature!

1.  Vitamin D
We all know how important this one is, especially now that shorter days are upon us and Mr. Sunshine isn't on our side as much!  Studies show that as little as 10-15 minutes in the sun each day, is enough for it to start working its magic.  In addition to contributing to good bone health, Vitamin D also helps to improve symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, protect against Respiratory Infections, Hearth Disease & stroke, and improve mood!

2.  Sleep
Being in nature is known to improve sleep quality, which, let's be honest, we could all benefit from during the holidays!  Exposure to sunlight can increase your melatonin production at night, which is needed to regulate your sleep cycle.

3.  Stress Relief
This is a big one!  Studies continue to show the amazing abilities nature has to reduce tension and depression.  One study has even shown that just looking at IMAGES of nature, increased people's mood (though we still recommend the real thing).  What's more!  We are actually learning that there are some really good reasons to play in the mud.  It is now believed that dirt contains a bacteria that activates the production of serotonin in the brain, and more serotonin, means a happier you!

4.  Perspective
This is a personal addition to the list, but I find that every time I make moments in nature, I leave with an altered perspective on my daily world and life.  When I surround myself with things that are larger than I am and have been around longer than I have, I always leave feeling lighter and less worried about whatever I went into the outdoors with initially.  We have a way of making mountains out of mole hills, but when you get outside (in actual mountains, if you're lucky) it does wonders for shifting your perspective about what actually matters vs what you have made into a bigger deal than it should be.  This is exceptionally important, I have found, around the holidays.

So, with the ever-approaching list of holidays on the horizon, we really hope to encourage you to create a plan now, for how you can incorporate nature breaks into your day.  As you've read, it doesn't have to be a 3-hour trek into the woods!  It can be as simple as spending time under the trees in a local park or taking a quick stroll down one of your local hike-and-bike trails.  The benefits of nature are very real and very needed for a healthy body and mind.  We came from nature, so spending time in it should always be a priority!  We'll see you outside!

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Tagged: Lifestyle