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.
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.
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 practise 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 journalling).
10 seasonal living tips for kids (and grown-ups too)!
- Visit your local farmers’ market and allow the kids to each choose a seasonal fruit or vegetable to try.
- Every morning, look outside and talk about the weather and the changing seasons. For younger children, consider using a “weather station.” For older children, consider documenting it in a journal.
- Choose a nearby tree and observe it as often as possible. Take a photo or do a painting every week to document its changes over time.
- Create nature-based artwork during your time spent outside, such as flower crowns, fairy houses, or nature mandalas.
- Go stargazing and keep track of the constellations and moon cycles.
- Create a “seasonal station” in your home and fill it with seasonal crafts, nature materials (such as acorns, mini pumpkins, or dried flowers), and books.
- Borrow books about the current season from your local library and read them together.
- Grow a garden and do yardwork together.
- During time in nature, reflect on your senses together. What can you feel? What can you smell? What can you hear?
- Create a list of fun outdoor activities you’d like to do each season as a family (see “Nature-based outdoor activities to try”).
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|
Moon cycles and menstrual cycles? [SUBHEAD]
Have you noticed a connection between your menstrual cycle and the moon’s cycle? Some cultures associate the moon with women and femininity, and the word “menses” is derived from the Latin and Greek word for “moon.”
The two almost-monthly cycles each have four phases. The waxing moon is thought to correlate with the follicular phase, with an emphasis on preparation and growth. The full moon and ovulation are associated with a release of energy. The waning moon and the luteal phase are associated with a return to a lower energy, and the new moon and menstruation are associated with retreat and quiet.
Whether or not your personal menstrual cycle is synced with the lunar cycle, many people choose to view the two as linked, and embrace their monthly cycle as a reminder of how our bodies are intricately connected to nature. We can honour and appreciate our bodies’ amazing functions, including our menstrual cycles.
Spending lots of time outside? [SUBHEAD]
It’s smart to plan ahead by investing in some sturdy and seasonally appropriate outdoor wear, such as rainsuits or sun hats. It’s also important to plan ahead, pack accordingly, and educate yourself on safety measures, such as tick prevention.
What is forest bathing or shinrin-yoku? [SUBHEAD]
In Japanese, it refers to the practice of spending time in a forest and immersing oneself in its atmosphere. It feels wonderful, and science confirms the benefits of this “mind-body-spirit experience”: it’s thought to help boost our well-being and support a sense of peace, relaxation, and comfort. Many consider it to be a form of nature therapy.