So you want to start a Nature Journal? I’m happy for you! Keeping a nature journal is one of the best things you can do for yourself and those you love. We all know that there are significant benefits in keeping a journal – any journal. Benefits like better mental clarity, boosts in both confidence and emotional intelligence, self-discipline, more creativity, increased problem-solving skills, and on and on.
And there are so many great ways to keep a journal: art journals, bullet journals, scripture journals, gratitude journals just to name a few. There are lots of great options, but I think you will find that Nature Journaling beats them all.
We kind of fell into it over here and I can honestly say that nature journaling has been nothing short of a treasured gift for both me and my kids. Let me tell you why:
Nature + Journal = Happy
There are so many studies proving a real connection between nature and happiness. This one, in particular, caught my eye: The mental health organization, MIND, published a study that found depression was reduced in 71% of participants after taking a walk in nature. When compared to walking around a shopping center where 22% of participants were more depressed than before the walk. 94% of the participants said that nature walks benefited their mental health.
Anecdotally, I have found over and over again that in our family, when annoyance levels are high and patience is low, a quick walk outside or impromptu nature study changes everything – for both me and my kids.
Nature journaling gives you the benefits of both journaling and nature making it a powerful tool full of excellent benefits!
How To Get Started
You don’t need much to get started. Just a small journal and a pen or pencil will do. If you’d like to get some special supplies, I have put together a huge list of our favorite supplies. You can find it in my free Resource Library. But remember it doesn’t have to be complicated! You can always add to your supplies later.
What to Record in Your Journal
You get to decide what you are going to record and how you will record it. If you enjoy drawing and painting, go that route. If you’d rather write down what you are seeing and feeling that is perfectly fine too. I find that drawing and painting even when I feel like I’m not doing a good job of it, forces me to focus on my subject longer and helps me to see more than I otherwise would have. With either option, be as descriptive as possible and try to open yourself up to seeing the natural world as a child would – with excitement and awe. Pay attention to your five senses. What are you seeing? What’s the weather like? What do you smell?
You may even want to collect a leaf or petal and tape it into your journal. Photos are a great option too. I usually draw what I’m seeing and then I record my thoughts and feelings, the weather, and then I try to ask myself some questions about what I’m observing. It takes me anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour…or however long I can get away with.
Here are a few other ideas to help get your juices flowing:
- Leaf or tree rubbings
- Measurements/charts/ – look for patterns
- Nature stamps (collect objects and paint them and press into your journal)
- Smear some juice from a berry or fruit you are drawing.
- Lists of birds, insects, leaves, or flowers you have observed
- Record sit spot seasons – sit in the same spot at least once during each season. Record how it is different
- Record animal tracks – ask questions like: where are they going? Who do they belong to?
- Seeds (either from a plant you are observing or taken from a packet you plan to plant – record how it is growing)
- Ask yourself: What does this remind me of? Why? Let yourself wonder and come up with answers on your own without the help of a field guide or your phone. Write them down and check later to see if you were close!
Stumped on where to start?
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Nature is Everywhere
We sometimes think that it is necessary to travel “to nature” and while I am all for trips to the woods or the beach, you really only need to go to your backyard. In fact, you could be living in a high rise in the middle of the city and still experience nature. Look and listen. Stop and observe and make it a habit. Just get yourself outside even if it’s for 10 minutes and record something you see or hear. Do it daily or weekly…just regularly, and I promise it will change you.
Nature Journaling Is Not Complicated
And that’s it! Nature journaling does not have to be complicated, and like most of the best things in life, it’s practically free. So if you are looking for some extra peace in your day and a creative outlet that doesn’t require a lot of time or money, give nature journaling a try and watch it transform your life.
Ready to Make Nature Journaling a Habit?
Join the challenge today and get day-by-day, step-by-step support for the next 15 days. Everything you need to make nature journaling a habit! When you join, you will also get access to my Resource Library full of ebooks, videos, and printables along with the Lily and Thistle Weekly Letter to help you on your creative journey.