Freeport, ME, October 22, 2021
Harvest season is a time of abundance. It’s a time when communities come together to reap what was planted in the spring and cultivated through the summer, to honor and celebrate the bounty of the Earth. Around the world seasons, food and traditions may differ, but the significance is universal. And while many of us may not live on a farm or work the land, we can embrace the sentiment of the season by harvesting regular time for ourselves outdoors.
Even in small increments, the benefits of spending time outdoors are vast – from improved short-term memory, better problem solving and heightened creativity, to lower levels of stress and greater feelings of well-being. Why? Well, one reason we find nature so beneficial for mental and emotional health is that it arouses awe – a feeling of being in presence of something vast and powerful that transcends our current understanding of the world. Or, as Dr. Piff, assistant professor of psychology at UC Irvine, puts it, awe “decenters” us, anchoring us in what matters most.
Awe does not require summiting a mountain or fording a river, you do not have to travel far away to a remote destination to find awe. We can reap this bounty through actions as small as observing the colorful, changing leaves blowing in the wind as you walk to your car or taking time to watch the clouds travel across the sky. These small moments can plant the seeds for lasting mental and emotional benefits, but the key is to make them a habit. And, as we know, our days are mostly built around routines and the easiest way to create a new habit is to stack them – what habits can you take outside to harvest your daily dose of awe?