Mindful Moments in Nature: Boost Your Mood, Improve Happiness, & Foster Fulfillment

Female hiker overlooking the gorgeous mountain range in Rocky Mountain National Park

“I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.”

Albert Einstein

Mindful moments are the gateway to fully enjoying life’s experiences, no matter how big or small.

Have you ever felt like you were just moving through the motions? Feeling like you are living on auto-pilot while life was happening around you rather than being fully present and actively participating?

Maybe you ate lunch while reading emails and didn’t really enjoy how it tasted, or went for a walk and never even noticed if the birds were chirping, or you can’t remember what your spouse was talking to you about.

You deserve to live life to the fullest. These tips will help you prioritize time outdoors intentionally and mindfully so that you can harness the healing power of nature, improve your happiness and well-being, and foster fulfillment.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness can be described as bringing your attention to the present moment on purpose, without judgment.

Mindfulness can be a few moments of focusing on your breath, bringing attention to your thoughts with curiosity and acceptance rather than indicators to take action on, or shifting your attention to the sounds, smells, or sights around you.

Mindfulness as a practice has been shown to have tremendous benefits for physical and mental health. The benefits of mindfulness include lowered stress and anxiety, improved immune function, increased attention and creativity, and cognitive flexibility.

What are Mindful Moments?

Put simply, mindful moments are brief periods of time spent fully engaging with yourself or the environment in the present moment.

Incorporating mindful moments into your days allows you to fit mindfulness into your busy schedule in a less formal way than a standard meditation practice, and empowers you to stay present and engaged in the precious moments of your life.

In addition, mindful moments in nature help you further reap the positive benefits of nature on health and well-being.

For example, two people go on a walk. One of them is glued to their phone, looking up every so often to think about upcoming projects at work. The other forgot their phone was with them and became fully immersed in the surrounding nature. How do you think their experiences will differ?

The person who never looks at their phone will experience tremendous satisfaction and increased energy from being present in nature. The person stuck on their phone will feel more drained at the end of their walk than when they started!

The Trap of Always Being Busy

Your body and mind need time to rest, process, and rejuvenate.

It can often feel like there is a big emphasis on working to the point of burnout, pushing through immense amounts of stress, and constantly being busy.

This translates into travel. Instead of making the most of your time away from work, you cram too much into a trip and rush between destinations to check them off your list. In addition, work and life obligations don’t magically disappear when you put up your out-of-office message – and your brain knows that.

With so much on your plate, it can be understandably difficult to step away from the screens, keep your mind in the present, and allow yourself to fully relax.

By incorporating mindful moments in nature into your days, you are scheduling time for calmness and happiness in a way that is free and plentiful. Make it a priority just like your meetings or work deadlines. Investing in your health and happiness is a crucial component of success and taking time to slow down and be present will help you to live each moment to the fullest.

Our Intention Behind Mindful Moments:

  • Allow you to experience life more fully and presently to promote growth and foster well-being
  • Encourage you to see the beauty in the journey rather than rushing to the destination
  • Help you slow down and experience the full benefits time in nature has to offer
  • Incorporate mindfulness in a less formal way that fits seamlessly into your day-to-day activities

How Can You Practice Mindful Moments in Nature?

Beautiful columbine wild flower along a hiking trail in Colorado
  • Already have a mindfulness practice? Consider bringing it to the trail or the places you explore
  • Tap into your senses. What sounds do you hear, what do you see, taste, feel, and smell? Take time to appreciate the environment around you at the moment. Note what you are drawn to without judgment or attaching to those sensations in any way. Notice how you feel and what tends to bring you feelings of joy or increased well-being. This awareness can help you recreate this in other settings
  • Notice and sit with your thoughts. Approach your thoughts with curiosity. Accept what comes to mind without judgment, enjoying the moment-to-moment experience of just being present.
  • Focus on your breathing as you inhale and exhale. Are your breaths deeper or shallow? How does your breathing change as you bring your attention toward your breath?
  • Take some time to reflect on what you are grateful for. Consider bringing a journal with you outside and jotting them down to really savor the good things in your life.
  • Ponder where you find meaning in life, and what fulfills you. Think back on moments when you felt most fulfilled…what were you doing? When do you feel happiest? How are you contributing to others or a part of something greater than yourself?

Remember that mindful moments are a time for you. It is not dictated by outside standards or agendas, and there is no wrong way to spend this time. Focus on what feels best for you, aligns with your values, honors your needs, or moves you closer to your goals or the version of yourself you wish to be.

What If I Am Not Good At Meditation?

  • While your mindful moment could be a meditation practice, it doesn’t have to be. It could be a simple exercise to help elicit presence, manage stress, boost positivity, encourage self-compassion, or express gratitude, for example. The opportunities are limitless!
  • Mindfulness and meditation are evolving practices that you can improve upon over time. There is really no right or wrong way to have mindful moments. Simply the awareness that your mind might be wandering and bringing your focus back to where your feet are, your surroundings, or your breath, is part of being more mindful! Go easy on yourself.
  • You could also consider building mindful moments more organically into the moving times of your hikes or walks. Notice how things feel and tap into your senses as you navigate different landscapes or simply focus on your breathing. Just be careful!
  • Make it work for you. The intention is to feel more connected to the present moment. Take time to slow down and focus on yourself or on your experiences. Do what brings you joy and your time in nature will become more fulfilling.

Benefits of Time In Nature & Mindfulness

“Just being surrounded by bountiful nature, rejuvenates and inspires us.”

EO Wilson
View of snow on a rocky mountain seen through an opening in green pine trees

You might have felt it for yourself, and there is mounting evidence that nature is in fact healing in many ways. Here are some amazing results from dozens of empirical studies:

Benefits of Spending Time in Nature

  • The sense of connection to nature seems to improve levels of happiness
  • Time in nature is linked to improved attention, lower stress, and improved mood
  • One experimental study suggests that looking at nature can perk up a tired brain (great for those weekday slumps!)
  • Increased levels of well-being, mood, positive social interactions, and a sense of meaning and purpose in life
  • There is also evidence that spending time in nature can make us nicer to each other and the planet – which we believe we could all use more of!

Great sources for more in-depth reading:

Benefits of Mindfulness

  • Improvement in well-being, such as through stress reduction
  • Improvement in physical health through enhanced immune functioning
  • Increased cognitive flexibility and decreased reactivity
  • Improved focus and working memory

Great sources for more in-depth reading:

Benefits of Being Mindful In Nature

  • Nature can enhance mindful awareness, and mindful awareness can also enhance the restorative qualities of nature
  • Amplify feelings of well-being and reduce stress
  • Decrease in the experience of negative emotions

Great sources for more in-depth reading:

Mindful Moments in Nature Overall

Vibrant green ferns in a forest

We exist in a complex world and face many challenges and responsibilities daily. In many ways, as humans, we are inevitably tied to nature. We rely on nature and we are of nature. Even so, we find ourselves seemingly so far removed from nature, living a largely sedentary lifestyle, being tied to screens, and drowning in the stressors of modern life.

Research clearly supports the benefits of spending more time in nature and practicing mindfulness. In addition, new research is exploring the additional benefits of being mindful while spending time in nature.

What better way to experience the benefits of mindful moments and spending time in nature than to combine the two?

Our Mindful Mission

The mission of Fulfilling Travel is to empower people to lead happy and fulfilling lives through travel, time in nature, and a productive mindset. Through this, we encourage a mindful approach to life, travel, and hiking as a vehicle for personal growth and wellness.

Done intentionally, immersive outdoor adventures, hiking, and spending time in nature can have many amazing benefits for your physical, mental, and emotional health.

While we often focus on the physical health benefits of exercise, there are so many wonderful psychological benefits to exercising in nature, such as hiking. When combined with the fascinating benefits of mindfulness there is a wonderful opportunity to support your growth and well-being in a way that costs you nothing. You don’t have to travel anywhere far. These tools can be used in your own backyard or local park. Furthermore, spending time in nature is such a powerful reminder that we are each part of something much bigger than ourselves. That sense of connection is so powerful!

Our hope is that our experiences and information will help you carve out more time to immerse yourself in natural experiences and bring a more mindful approach to how you live, work, travel, and explore. The tools we provide will help you increase your own well-being and deepen your connection to the world around you. Practicing mindfulness in nature will have life-changing benefits for you as an individual, for the relationships you have with those close to you, and for the planet.

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