Hello everyone! Hope you are all doing well!
This is my fourth post for my action project — Project One with Nature. We weren’t actually required to post today, but I wanted to anyway because I have so much to share with you all about what I’ve been up to with my action project, so let’s get started!
1.) Where are you with your action? (e.g. what involvement have you had so far? Describe with examples)
In my last post, I outlined a lot of stuff I’ve started and changed in my action due to social distancing and the pandemic. I’m super happy to say that although I had to make changes, I’ve been very engaged in my action the past couple of weeks! Below I have outlined the key things I have been doing!
1. My Instagram Nature Challenge @projectonewithnature
After my last post, my Instagram challenge took off! I got tons of amazing photos sent to me from people going out and exploring nature. As a result, I decided to do a giveaway for everyone sending in their photos and the giveaway ends tomorrow for the chance to win a Starbucks gift card. It’s been really nice to see so many people responding to this challenge and doing it. People have found ways to connect with nature whether around their homes, or exploring other places in the city. Head over to my Instagram page for a closer look!
2. Nature Activity Lesson For Baker Drive
Earlier today, I sent in a video lesson to Mrs. Lederer, a teacher at Baker Drive Elementary. I used to do nature walks in Mundy Park the first Friday of every month with Mrs. Lederer’s class, so this nature activity is a way to replace that fun experience.
For anyone interested in seeing my video lesson, click the link below to watch!
3. Family nature walks and my own personal exploration of nature!
In the midst of encouraging others to explore nature and get outside, I’ve been trying to do the same! I take daily walks with my family, and lately we have been exploring new places like Dawes Hill Park and the trails behind it. We’ve come across some beautiful spring flowers and plants. I included some pictures down below!
4. A little Research!
Last post I mentioned I was going to add a little research to my action project. So today, I did a little research and looked at how interacting with nature is good for your mental health. What are the benefits?
Here are some key points I found!
Spending even a minimum of 20 minutes a day outside in nature can have a huge positive impact on your mental health by helping your lower stress hormone levels. A study found that this results in a huge drop in your body’s cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone our body produces (1).
Furthermore, scenes of nature help to reduce anger, fear, and stress. The benefits do not stop there; being in nature benefits you physically too by reducing your blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension (2).
Interestingly, time in nature can also enhance our attention spans and make us more focused. As humans, we can find nature really interesting and truly focus on what we are seeing around us. The time to focus on something other than work provides a much needed relief for our minds, and it helps refresh us to tackle tasks more efficiently and proactively later on (2). I found this point very relatable for me, and probably countless other students as well. Due to the new system of online classes, I find myself in my bedroom for hours on end staring at a screen, and over time I start becoming frustrated and the amount of work I’m completing gets less and less as the time goes by because I am not refreshed and motivated anymore. For me, taking my daily walks is a huge help. When I get back, I am more focused and ready to get down to work and finish the assignment because I gave my brain a chance to relax and take a much needed “brain break” in nature.
When considering these key points, I think it’s super important now more than ever to get outside every single day since we have all been home so much and we may all be facing our own forms of stress and challenges during these uncertain times.
2.) What are some successes that you have had? Provide specific examples.
My biggest success at the moment has been my Instagram Nature photo challenge! I did not expect for this to become as big of a success as it had. Tons of students from Charles Best as well as people from the community have been sending in photos of their adventures and exploration of nature. In fact, I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on my nature instagram challenge. One girl from my school messaged me and told me how she loves seeing all the amazing photos of nature other people are capturing in her Instagram feed every day, and she was inspired to get outside herself because of it! She sent in some photos too!
Social media has been a great way to connect with others during the pandemic; it is more powerful than ever as it is providing us the ability to stay connected with one another and socialize. I have had an amazing time doing this nature photo challenge on project one with nature’s Instagram. Once the challenge ends this weekend, I will still accept pictures and post them up to the account, but I think I might try and find another fun activity I can get people to do as well! We will see!
3.) What are some challenges that you have faced? Have you been able to overcome them? If so, how? Provide specific examples. If not, can you problem-solve some ideas that might work for next time or if a similar situation arises? Again, provide specific examples.
Quite recently, the biggest challenge I had was finishing my nature video lesson for the Baker Drive Elementary students. It was difficult finding a time to create the activity, make a script, film it, and then edit the video together while I also had other school work and things to attend to. Thankfully, I was able to manage my time effectively to make sure I made the deadline I set for myself (today). Managing my time meant getting work done and not procrastinating anything. I know that many are finding this hard, especially since we are all at home and it can be tough to find ways to motivate yourself to get your assignments done (especially when the weather is so nice and all you want to do is go outside!). But, I was able to push through this and keep working. I set a specific time aside to film, and then last night I edited the video together. The editing took a little longer than expected because I embedded slides into the video. I also did the activity myself to show the students how to do it, so that took time as well, but it was all worth it and I truly hope the students enjoy the activity I’ve made for them. In fact, I quite enjoyed doing the activity myself. Drawing the picture and colouring it was really relaxing and offered me another chance to relax my mind and relieve stress!
4.) What are you doing next and why?
So moving forward, there are a couple things I am planning on doing next:
1. Painting rocks for local parks!
Many of you might have noticed that people are painting rocks with inspirational quotes and sayings, or even just pictures, and placing them in local parks and neighbourhoods. I have decided to take on this task myself and include it in this action!
The other day, I explored the trails behind Montgomery Middle down my street. Behind the school there is a ravine and a stream with tons of smooth rocks. My sisters and I collected a bunch and we plan to paint them and place them around the community some time soon to help spread some much needed kindness and encouragement during these challenging times.
2. Continuing my research
Next post I will also continue my research and see what are the best ways to connect with nature. Cynthia also made a great suggestion in my last post to also look into researching how nature is being affected during this pandemic, and I am going to look into this as well as I think there are many ways nature has been positively impacted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In fact, if any of you have any ideas on what else I can include in my research that would be great! Feel free to comment down below!
3. Creating a slideshow of Baker Drive Students’ work
Now that I have sent out my video nature activity lesson to Baker Drive Elementary students, I am hoping to collect their work and compile a slideshow of everyone’s nature discoveries and share it back with them so that all the students can see what others found.
My action project is taking me wherever I am inspired. And I love this because it keeps things so open and engaging for me. These past weeks this action project has been so fun, and I constantly look forward to doing anything related to it. I love connecting with others through nature (even if it’s virtually!).
I hope you guys enjoyed this post, and I hope you are all finding ways to relieve stress and focus on things other than school work, whether that’s exploring nature, doing crafts, reading, or whatever your hobbies consist of 🙂
Thanks for reading!
– Madison Ciulla