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Episode 6: Where the Wild Teachers Are

Updated: Jan 19, 2021

Description: "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn." —John Muir,Our National Parks (1901)


1. When you've finished getting a breath of fresh air, consider ordering The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams. You can find her work here. If that link doesn't work for you, copy and paste this URL into a new browser:

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The Self-Care for Educators team cares about the content-accessibility for all educators. If you have trouble accessing the audio for the podcast, the transcription has been provided below.

Transcription: Hi, and welcome to episode six of Self-Care for Educators. I'm your host, Tina Boogren, and in this episode, we're going to explore the theme of the great outdoors, and I'm going to offer up some strategies for you to experiment and play with this week.

What if there were a miracle drug that could relieve stress almost instantly? Would you take it? What if I said you don't even need to pop a pill, actually, that all you need to do is step out side. Fantastic. Right? I know. So this week you're going to get yourself out side. That's it. You're going to go to a park or a forest or your backyard or a playground. Doesn't matter. You're just going to get yourself outside.

According to Florence Williams in her fascinating book, The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative—super fascinating book, we'll put a link to it—what she says is that when we are stuck in doors, we're actually harming our mental and physical health. Instead, we should remember this: the more nature that we feel and experience, the better we'll feel. That's it. Even as little as 15 minutes in the woods reduces the stress hormone, cortisol. And if you've got 45 minutes for nature, you're going to experience cognitive improvements too. I mean this is all just about being outside.

Being in nature can help us feel connected to something greater than ourselves, and as you might recall, that need is at the very top of our self-care ladders. When we're able to gaze at the wonders of the outside world, we are filled with that incredible emotion of awe and inspiration. I'm really, really lucky that I live in the beautiful state of Colorado, and I make a deliberate effort to get outside every single day through blazing sun, howling wind, and soft snow.

My goal is to take our dog, Harry, on a walk outside every single morning when I'm home. Between those morning walks with my dog, hiking in the foothills, biking on the tremendous trails nestled throughout the city and in the mountains ... I'd much rather get my endorphins by going out in nature rather than being stuck in a gym. Although I've logged a lot of miles that way too, when the weather is particularly brutal, as it can be.

When I'm outside, I try to keep my phone tucked away and I rarely use my headphones. I strive to engage all of my senses in the experience, especially my hearing. I absolutely love breathing in that fresh mountain air and feeling the sun or wind or rain or snow on my face and disconnecting from my other obligations for a while. So this week ... is about stepping outside and savoring the great outdoors. Whether that means stepping outside onto your lawn, a city park, or a country road, it doesn't matter. We're just going to get out side. So here's the invitation: I want you to commit to getting outside for at least 15 minutes every single day this week.

If you can get out for more, that's fantastic. But I feel like 15 minutes, we can do that. We can do that. So, here's some ways that you can do this without just stepping outside. Right? You can take a walk. Take a walk in the morning, or maybe during your lunch break or after school. I've started adding evening walks to my routine right after dinner. And I just love that. What I typically do on my morning walk, like I said, is I don't have headphones. I really just love starting my day just getting the sounds of the world around me, but for my evening walk, I usually listen to a podcast or our Educator 911 playlist. It just feels a little bit different in the evenings.

So experiment with that and see how that feels. So try going for a walk without putting your headphones in and then try going for a walk with your headphones in. What feels better for you?And maybe it just kind of depends on the day. Listen to your body and see what you need on that particular day.

If you can maybe take a little bit of a walk without your shoes on, that can feel really good to walk around in the grass, just barefoot ... and this is the time of year for us to play with that.

Something else you can do is just rest. Just when you need a break, just step outside to take your break. Sit on the grass against the tree. Maybe lay down, if you can. How does resting outside feel? How does that feel different than just resting inside.

Eat. Eat outside. Take your morning coffee outside or eat a meal outside picnic style. It doesn't have to be fancy. Just what does it feel like to sit outside while you eat?

Something that I want you to do also is notice ... I want you to really be alert and keep your eyes open and notice what's going on around you. and then try closing your eyes to engage your other senses. What do you hear? Feel? Smell all around you? That's going to help increase that sense of awe when you're outside. I want you to, when you're outside, try just taking those deep, deep belly breaths that we often talk about. You know, really pause to make sure that your breath is getting down into your belly, and think about how does that sense of just calm feel different when you're outside versus when you're inside? If you are working with students, consider taking your students outside. Can you teach outside for awhile? Can you take a five minute walk as a brain break with your students? What do you notice about your students when they're able to get outside of the indoor classroom for awhile? And then finally, I want you to just think about experimenting with different locations outside, you know, what does it feel like to visit a park versus a forest versus mountains versus the beach versus country roads, all depending on where you live and what you have access to. Right? But is there a specific place that you enjoy going to that you could make it a destination to be? We have different parks in our city that I love, love, love to on the weekend, go visit to take my long walks. And of course, any opportunity I have to escape to our mountains is an opportunity that I'm going to jump on.

So that's it. I just want you to get outside this week. It's that simple commit to at least 15 intentional minutes. Every single day spent outside as always, you know, ... if you want to spend longer ... I am here for it. I'm going to try to increase my time outside too, and just be really reflective, thoughtful, and aware of how it feels when you are outside. What does it feel like to feel that sunshine or even the rain or the wind or whatever that weather pattern is? What does it feel like? What does it do for you? What does it do for your soul to spend a little bit of time outside in nature? Ooh, I can't wait.

Thank you as always to the fabulous Brooke for making this happen. Thank you, to Marzano

Resources and Solution Tree for this job that I get to do every single day, that doesn't even feel like a job. It feels like a gift, and as always a huge, huge, huge shout out to the Self-Care Squad for being so bad-ass.

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