Rochester, Minnesota - A few years back, I posted a discussion about how gardening can restore your soul.

I was recently reading your comments on that blog again and was struck by a woman who said "nature is a great healer." Others used words such as new beginnings, uplifting, relaxing and peaceful.

In the northern hemisphere, spring has arrived and we have the opportunity to experience the beauty of nature coming to life again. This always reminds me of the power of nature. One of my favorite ways to relax and unwind is to take a walk or just be outside.

I love noticing the little changes happening around me. Sometimes it's a new perfume of the spring blossoms on the trees or of fresh cut grass. Other times it's a bird call that I haven't heard before or frogs singing in the pond. Each time, the sights, smells and sounds are a bit different.

Being out in nature can have such a powerful effect, and it's quite simple to do. Focusing on the little things that nature offers can take your mind away from stress and cause an instant relaxation response for your body. Any time that we can de-stress the body (even just a little), it's a good thing.

Here are my favorite ways to allow nature into your life:

  • Go for a short walk and enjoy the beauty around you.
  • Find a bench outdoors and just sit and take in the experience.
  • Take a drive (or have someone drive you) to a park you've never visited and notice what nature created.
  • Use all of your senses when you're outdoors. What smells do you notice? What do you hear? What do you see?
  • If you need to stay indoors, find a book or television program that features images of nature and focus on it for a few minutes.
  • When faced with anxiety or stress, close your eyes and meditate on your favorite place in nature. When your mind goes to the place, your body will feel the benefit as well.