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5 objects that help achieve mindfulness for children & adults in a Forest!

Forests are known as a place of relaxation and somewhere you can achieve mindfulness. Just look at all of the research on Forest Bathing, also known as Shinrin Yoku, for some of its physical and mental benefits for both adults and children.

You can simply head to a forest on your own or with your children and explore, enjoy the moments and relax; this might come naturally to some but for others not so, or they can last so long doing that and then need something else to keep them in the forest, this can happen to us all.

So below we have listed 5 objects that we feel are essential for drawing out the time spent in the forest for children and adults and that can help achieve mindfulness in a natural setting.

1) Correct shoes, clothing and coat...

This might seem very obvious but wearing the right gear will mean you and your child are more relaxed in the environment, you aren't fidgeting, too hot or too cold, in pain or discomfort and so able to enjoy and embrace the experience in nature rather than wanting to cut it short and being distracted by the clothing. If it is hot don't forget hats and sun cream, cold don't forget to wrap up in layers. If you are carrying baby in a sling remember to layer up both you and them rather than bundle them into a very thick coat where they could overheat.

2) Picnic blanket, snacks and drinks.

A picnic blanket isn't just needed as somewhere to sit and consume those snacks and drinks but also can be somewhere you just sit or lie and watch the world go by. Try cloud watching, listening to the sounds of the forest/meadow that you are in. Use it as a base where from here you, toddler or baby can move around and come back to. Choose a spot with a beautiful view (a sit spot) not too difficult to get to, not too uneven surface, or you will be thinking about how uncomfortable it is, but also not too much in other peoples view/path.

Snacks and drinks are my essential for life, regardless of where I am going!

I always have water/juice, bananas and some sort of protein snack in my backpack (p.s. ditch the handbag and go for a backpack!). You don't want to be trying to enjoy time in a forest whilst feeling your tummy rumble or hearing your child upset because they are hungry, this will just call time on the event and not allow you to be present. Also when energy is low it can be a good boost. It goes without saying but remember to take that litter home with you when finished.

3) Books.

This can be a book for you to read whilst your children are off exploring or books for your children to read on their own or for you to read to them. If you can enjoy reading a book inside your house why not do it on a picnic blanket, or bench, outside of your house. When I had my baby I started to read. As a Dyslexic person I found reading for pleasure not that pleasurable, but I made the pledge that my Son wouldn't see me on my phone all the time, instead he would see me mostly (don't worry I do still use a phone) reading a book. Getting off social media and your head away from that pressure and even just screens is so important for you and you are then modelling behaviour for your children too but that's another blog post I am sure...

Reading books can take you out of the world around you and transport you somewhere else. Being engrossed in reading can really help you to be more mindful and surprisingly pass by many an hour.

4) Binoculars.

Ok this is something not everyone may have at home but you need to!

Children love them, and many, many adults love them too to go bird watching. Some people might think that bird watching is boring, but in fact it is such a mindful activity to do.

You are slowing your body, and your mind and focusing precisely on that present moment, nothing else. If you are focusing on a bird in the distance or trying to track down where that bird song came from as a child then how can you be stressing about your exam tomorrow or as an adult worrying about the bills. A small, lightweight pair that are not too expensive will do so that you can throw them into your backpack and whip them out at the picnic spot or along the forest path. The RSPB have plenty of resources to help you get started with bird watching and you can even take part in your own garden with the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch.

5) Paper and pencil/crayons.

As Nature Art teachers we had to include this one but for so many reasons and the first one isn't related to art at all, it is journaling.

Journaling is writing down or drawing your thoughts, feelings and emotions. You can use it to document what you see/are experiencing in the forest for instance or to reflect upon what else is going on in your life. It is great for adults and children can use it too maybe as more of a snap shot of that day, sticking down leaves that they found to remind them at a later date of the feelings associated with the mindful forest experience.

If journaling isn't for you then try using the paper and pencil to write some poems or create art about the experience. For children why not bring a crayon and ask them to draw what they see or to find different textures to rub, such as leaf or bark rubbing. Like with all of the experiences above this is another one that focuses the mind on a task in nature to enhance the experience within it, it relaxes and slows the body and the breath and is a great way to increase the time spent in nature.

I really hope that you are able to use these suggestions as a spring board to enable you to get into the forest on your own or with your family and embrace being mindful in nature.

Let us know how you get on by tagging us on social media @NatureMakers


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