12 Ways to Practice Self-Care in Nature

Prioritizing time for yourself is challenging, but please believe us when we say YOU ARE WORTH IT!

Connecting with nature reduces stress and helps improve both physical and mental wellbeing. Studies show that 120 minutes in nature a week contributed substantially to lower stress and blood pressure, improved mood, increased self-esteem, and greater immune function.

So check out some of these nature infused self-care ideas below and then go TREAT YOURSELF!

1. Take yourself on a picnic

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Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve, Derek Neumann

Two of the best things in life – nature and food. What’s not to love? Find a picnic bench at one of the Open Space Authority preserves or grab a blanket, pack some snacks, and head to your local park or greenspace. Whether you’re solo or with a pal, a picnic is always a great excuse to get some sunshine and have a relaxing afternoon. Just don’t forget to leave no trace!

2. Cook a nutritious meal


Healthy food is a great way to take care of yourself. Hit a local farm stand or farmer's market, buy some fresh seasonal produce and cook up something delicious!

3. Hit the trails

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Ulistac Natural Area, Lanny Nguyen Photography

Getting some exercise... The Open Space Authority offers outdoor experiences for people of all levels of experience and ability. Check out our website to find the best trail for you. If you’re for something more accessible, read our list of some of the best local paved trails.

4. Try a guided meditation

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Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve, Lech Naumovich

Mindfulness, or the awareness of one's feelings and thoughts, has been shown to improve mental and physical wellbeing. Take some time to breathe by following along in our guided nature meditation.

Mindfulness, or the awareness of ones feelings and thoughts, has been shown to improve mental and physical wellbeing. Take some time to breathe by following along in our guided nature meditation.

5. Start a Garden


Gardening is another great way to take care of yourself! It gives you a reason to head outside and connects you to the food you’re eating. And you don’t have to be an expert to do it! Check out our 10 Tips for Starting Your Own Garden to make it happen, no matter how much space you have.

6. Try birding

Yellow-billed magpie

“A red-tailed what?” Ever been around someone who can name every species of bird flying overhead, when you can barely remember if you turned left or right at that last trail intersection? You're not alone, and you too can be as knowledgeable as your birding friends! Give yourself the gift of a new experience and use our Birdwatcher's Guide to Coyote Valley.

Research shows that time spent birding (even casually) can reduce negative emotions and help people feel happier about themselves and the world around them. See if you can be the one to recognize that yellow-billed magpie on your next hike.

7. Volunteer

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Trail Master volunteers work at Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve, Cliff Irrebaria

Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, spend time outdoors, and give back to your community. Helping others can make us feel happier, connected, and provide us with a sense of purpose. The Open Space Authority offers many volunteer opportunities where you can enjoy nature while giving back.

8. Journal outside


Like meditation, journaling is another way to practice mindfulness and take stock of how you’re feeling. Pull up a chair, lay down a blanket, or find a soft grassy area to sit down and start writing. It can be about your day, how you’re feeling, your surroundings, what you plan on eating for dinner – anything that’s on your mind. Appreciate this time with you, yourself, and your brain.

9. Draw what you see

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Artist Edward Rooks demonstrates how to draw birds during an Open Space Authority program

No matter how advanced you are, drawing is another highly meditative activity that allows you to appreciate what’s around you. For extra tips, check out our Virtual Art playlist to get started. Ideas include drawing your favorite animal, plant, or landscape. And if you’re proud of it, or want to give us a good chuckle, go ahead and send it to us. It could be featured on our Instagram!

10. Go to an outdoor event

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Coyote Ridge Public Access Weekends, David Mauk

The Open Space Authority hosts many events that help you get outside and learn something new, both of which are great ways to treat yourself. Whether it’s a bird and plant walk, public access weekends at special preserves, or even stargazing evenings, every month offers many opportunities for you to participate.

11. Enjoy the sunrise

Bill Adams

Waking up early promotes mental calmness, higher productivity, better sleep, lower stress levels – the list goes on. Setting that alarm a bit earlier and letting the sun help you start your day is a great way to have a relaxing morning. But you’re only human, so if your bed just feels a bit too comfortable for a sunrise wakeup call (we understand), then checkout the next tip:

12. Catch the sunset

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Bill Adams

There’s nothing quite like finishing your day with the sun. Enjoy the colors, the temperature, and the growing quietness around you, and thank yourself for giving yourself the opportunity to slow down and appreciate just one of the many cool things nature offers us.

April 04, 2022
For media inquiries contact:

Charlotte Graham

Public Information Officer