Finding Solace in the Seasons

Photo Credit: Grace Mirzeler

Guest post from Gerri Makay with the North Dakota Forest Service in coordination with the Western Urban and Community Forestry Network's #HealthyTreesHealthyLives social media campaign.

We are closing in on the end of the year, a year unlike any other. The annual Holiday Season is intended to be a time for giving thanks and spreading cheer. Song lyrics tell us it’s the happiest time of the year. But for many, even in a normal year, the holidays bring stress.

How can you help yourself through stressful times? Take a break. Get outside for a walk among the trees. Trees care for your peace of mind. Exposure to nature decreases mental fatigue by relaxing and restoring your mind. Trees care for your vitality. Trees absorb pollutants so you can breathe clean, fresh air, helping your brain release serotonin to boost your energy and mood. Worried about getting sick? Being in and around nature helps your body’s immune system and boosts disease-fighting cells to act faster. Time spent around trees is never wasted time.

Showing kindness for someone else gives you a sense of purpose and satisfaction. Share some goodness with a gift basket of fruit and nuts. Trees care for your nutrition. Fruit and nuts from trees contain antioxidants which boost the immune system and provide healthy fats to help decrease bad cholesterol levels. Extend kindness to backyard wildlife. Hang peanut butter-and-birdseed-covered pinecones from branches to feed birds all winter - a treat for the critters and birdwatchers alike.

Finally, find solace in the most iconic holiday symbol: a tree adorned with ornaments and lights. Evergreens bring a sense of comfort and a bit of green to a stark winter landscape. String white lights on a pine, spruce or juniper (or even the leafless canopy of a deciduous woody small tree or shrub) to illuminate the backyard all winter. If you don’t have a tree in the yard to enjoy, spruce tops are available from many florists during the holiday season. Position evergreen branches in a bucket of sand or kitty litter to create an instant tree.

Find peace in the quiet.                                

And every now and then, step outside for a closer look and some fresh air.