Since the onset of the pandemic, many of us have made jokes about not remembering what month or season it is. The truth is that many of us have been disconnected from our natural world for much longer. Our office workplaces, cars, artificial lighting, and heating and cooling systems all work to create indoor environments in which we can accidentally forget about what’s happening in nature. And the less we interact with the natural world, the more detached we can feel.
Seasonal living offers a way to rekindle our relationships with nature. In the process, we can uncover the joy and beauty in the natural world hidden in plain sight all around us.
What is seasonal living?
Humans used to live in a way that was innately more in touch with the seasons; indeed, many people around the world still do. For farmers, it’s important to intricately know what is happening in nature, so crops are planted and harvested at the right times, and are tended with care.
But for the rest of us, living in a way that is consciously connected to the seasons can be an intentional lifestyle choice through mindful daily practices such as seasonal eating and spending more time outside. We can learn to appreciate and embrace the natural rhythms and changes found in nature, and in ourselves.
Benefits of seasonal living may include
- improved mood and reduced stress due to spending time in nature
- increased feelings of interconnectedness with the natural world and our place in it
- greater knowledge of plant and animal species
- the chance to slow down, reflect, and live in a more mindful, intentional way
Listen to nature
It sounds simple, but much of living seasonally is paying attention to the nature around you. When it comes to time spent in nature, try to aim for quality in addition to quantity. That means trying to avoid the temptation of looking at your phone! Instead, aim to take in nature with more of your senses.
TIP: Hug that tree—literally. Research shows that touching wood for three minutes brings about beneficial physiological responses.
Seasonal living, every day
There are myriad ways to live seasonally, and as always, it’s important to do what works for you. Here are a few ideas to help inspire you.
Is there anything more delicious than a sweet blackberry plucked right off the vine, still warm from the sun? Choosing local and seasonal food is one way in which we can eat in a more eco-friendly way, support our communities, and foster relationships with local farmers and food businesses.
There’s no need to overhaul your entire diet. Simply start incorporating more locally grown, in-season foods when possible, whether it’s from your own little garden or a store. Ask questions and chat with vendors at your local farmers’ market or the produce experts at your local health food store to learn more about the foods and how to cook them, as well as how they’re grown or produced.
TIP: Fruits and vegetables that ripen naturally have optimal nutrition, so eating seasonally is a great boost for immune health.
You can also incorporate mindfulness and gratitude practices into your mealtimes. Sunshine, water, and soil nourish the plants that, in turn, nourish us. Before eating, reflect on your food, its journey to your dinner plate, and the resources involved.
Bring the outdoors in by incorporating some of the following suggestions:
- local, seasonal flowers
- natural materials such as acorns, chestnuts, pinecones, feathers, or driftwood
- opening the windows for fresh air
- making a seasonal garland with leaves or flowers
Your daily routine
Ask yourself: how can I fit in more time in nature? Maybe wander into your yard or outdoor space in the morning to feel the dew on your toes and listen to the birds, or in the evening to smell the cool air and see the moon. Notice how these experiences change through the year. You may also wish to practice yoga or meditate outside on a regular basis.
Celebrating the changing of seasons can be a joyful and meaningful addition to any holidays you currently celebrate. Many people observe such dates as the autumnal equinox, the winter solstice, the spring equinox, and the summer solstice with nature-based celebrations. Celebrations can be communal (such as hosting a family dinner party or taking part in a community event) or individual (such as a walk in the woods or some quiet meditation or journaling).
Nature-based outdoor activities to try
|hike||visit the seashore||pick apples||have a snowball fight|
|fly a kite||shop at a farmers’ market||carve pumpkins||go snowshoeing|
|splash in puddles||have a picnic||harvest your garden||ice skate|
|plant a garden||go camping||save seeds||build a snowman|
|press flowers||make a “bug hotel”||have a bonfire||study and photograph snowflakes|
|do a nature scavenger hunt||pick berries||go horseback riding||cross-country ski|
|birdwatch||go “plogging”||ride bikes||stargaze|