12 Ways to Benefit from Nature Journaling and How To Do It

Have you heard of nature journaling? It’s a pretty simple practice – although the benefits are enormous, and it’s loads of fun.

All you need is a quiet spot (preferably outdoors, but it could be anywhere as long as there is nature around you), a few minutes of quiet contemplation, and a notebook, sketchbook, or journal to record your observations.

Nature journaling in a notebook

Best of all… Nature journaling is not just for people with mad drawing skills and/or green fingers. It’s for everyone!

As an artist and environmental educator, Bethan Burton says in her blog post, ‘Let’s NOT make art’, “For those who feel nervous about putting pen to paper, I explain that nature journaling is not about creating works of art, and this is why anyone can do it.” Developing skills in nature journaling, such as observation and recording, can be achieved through deliberate practice, emphasizing that these skills enhance the connection with the natural world.

The idea behind nature journaling is not to draw plants, animals, or insects accurately but to connect with the natural world. You do this by observing nature and recording what you see, hear, smell, feel, or experience in a meaningful way.

The recording part can take any form you feel comfortable with, whether it’s drawing, painting, pressing plants, writing notes or poetry – even composing music or songs. Or a combination of all these.

The ritual of journaling with nature

Nature journaling is more than just putting pen to paper; it’s a meditative practice that encourages mindfulness and introspection. Stepping away from screens and immersing oneself in nature fosters a sense of presence and connection. 

This type of journaling bridges the tangible beauty of the outdoors and the intangible realm of your thoughts and emotions. The rustling of leaves, the chirping of birds, and the gentle caress of a breeze provide a serene backdrop for this introspective journey.

When you regularly practice taking time out to reflect in and on nature, you’ll get a break from your fast-paced life and develop a deeper appreciation for and connection with the natural world. This deeper relationship fortifies the soul, energizes the mind and body, and motivates us to live more mindfully.

The magic of analog in a digital age

In a world dominated by smartphones and tablets, journaling with nature offers a respite from the constant barrage of notifications and alerts. The tactile sensation of putting pen to paper engages your senses in a way that typing on a keyboard cannot. 

The slow, deliberate strokes of writing in your notebook will encourage you to slow down your thoughts and embrace the therapeutic power of being fully present in the moment.

The physicality of journaling also provides a tangible keepsake of your experiences. Flipping through the pages of your journal evokes a sense of nostalgia and wonder as you revisit moments of clarity, revelations, and emotional connections with the natural world.

Connecting with nature can be a powerful remedy for stress, anxiety, and burnout. When combined with the practice of journaling, this connection becomes even more transformative. 

Nature journaling is a harmonious blend of mindfulness and creative expression, offering many benefits that enhance holistic well-being. Let’s explore some remarkable advantages of this soul-enriching practice.

Benefits of nature journaling

1. A holistic approach to wellbeing

Numerous studies and reviews (such as Kuo M, 2015; Groenewegen et al., 2006, 2012; Sugiyama et al., 2008; de Vries et al., 2013; Hartig et al., 2014) have highlighted the positive impact that spending time in nature has on human physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. 

Nature journaling takes this further by creating a synergistic relationship between the external environment and your thoughts. The practice has been shown to ‘mitigate feelings of burnout, anxiety and overwhelm, as well as promote a happier and healthier mental state’.

You create a sacred space for emotional processing and personal growth as you jot down your observations, sensations, and musings while surrounded by nature’s splendor. 

Daily journaling improves mental and physical health, and translating the awe-inspiring natural world into words fosters gratitude, mindfulness, psychological resilience, and a renewed sense of purpose.

2. Stress relief & relaxation

Nature has a unique ability to soothe our senses and calm our minds. When you combine the tranquillity of a natural setting with the reflective act of journaling, you create a space for stress to melt away. 

The serenity of nature and the rhythmic motion of writing, painting or drawing can lead to a profound sense of relaxation, allowing you to release tension and find inner peace.

3. Mindfulness & presence

Journaling with nature encourages you to be fully present in the moment — just like the practice of forest bathing. As you observe the world around you and record your thoughts in a lovely notebook or bullet journal, you naturally engage your senses and focus your awareness. This mindfulness practice deepens your connection with nature and enhances your ability to be present in all aspects of your life. 

In this way, nature journaling can form an invaluable component of your self-care regimen.

4. Enhanced creativity & reflection

The beauty of nature serves as a wellspring of inspiration for creative expression. Journaling in natural surroundings stimulates your imagination, inviting you to capture the essence of your environment through words, sketches, stickers, collages or even pressed flowers. 

By capturing the visual elements of your surroundings, you cultivate a deeper appreciation for the beauty surrounding you. This creative exploration nurtures your artistic side and opens the door to new ideas and perspectives.

5. Emotional processing & self-discovery

Nature’s boundless beauty often mirrors the landscape of our emotions. Journaling with nature creates a safe space to explore your feelings and thoughts. 

The act of journaling prompts introspection and self-discovery. As you observe the world around you, you’ll also gain insights into your thoughts, emotions, and aspirations. 

By externalizing your inner world, you’ll gain insights into your emotions, triggers, and patterns. This process of self-discovery promotes emotional intelligence and a deeper understanding of yourself and your place in the intricate web of life. 

6. Fostering a deeper connection to the earth

A number of studies have shown that nature journaling fosters a strong connection to the earth, which can lead to a heightened sense of environmental awareness and a greater appreciation for the planet we call home. 

By documenting your experiences in nature, you become attuned to the life cycles of the plants, animals, insects, or birds you’re observing, as well as to the cycles of the earth, the changing seasons, and the delicate balance of life. 

7. Improved mental clarity

Translating your thoughts onto paper amidst the beauty of the outdoors helps you to untangle mental knots and create space for fresh perspectives to emerge. Journaling helps declutter the mind, allowing you to organize your thoughts and gain mental clarity. When combined with the restorative power of nature, this effect becomes even more potent. 

8. Boosted immune system

Spending time in nature has been linked to improved immune function. The stress-reducing effects of nature and the positive impact of journaling on emotional well-being can boost your immune system. A healthier body complements a healthier mind, leading to greater overall well-being.

9. Cultivation of gratitude

Gratitude is a natural by-product of journaling. Crack open your gratitude journal as you immerse yourself in the natural world – whether by surrounding yourself with indoor plants, spending time in the garden with your pets, or visiting your favorite beauty spots. Record the feelings, thoughts, sensations and positive vibes that come to you. 

Through this practice, you will develop a sense of appreciation for the beauty that exists in the world. This will amplify your gratitude, helping you focus on the positive aspects of your life and nurture a positive mindset.

10. Enhanced problem-solving skills

The act of observing nature’s solutions to challenges – be it a plant adapting to its environment or a stream finding its way around obstacles – can stimulate your creative problem-solving abilities.

By paying attention to and recording your observations of nature’s harmonious patterns and intricate systems in your journal, you’ll be inspired to develop new ways of thinking about problems you encounter and to engage in reflective problem-solving deeply. 

11. Personal growth & resilience

Nature journaling is a journey of self-growth and resilience. Regularly engaging in this practice allows you to adapt, evolve, and overcome obstacles – much like the natural world itself. Your journal will become a testament to your progress – a record of your evolving thoughts and emotions as you navigate the various seasons of life.

12. A valuable tool for creative inquiry

Nature journaling can also be a tool for creative inquiry through which we can help ourselves and others see the beauty and wonder in the natural world. It enhances our understanding of the world around us and encourages us to inquire more about the natural world. 

Helping us identify and name plants and animals in the world around us prompts us to appreciate them more, which makes us want to learn more about them and discover their different roles in our environment. 

A great example of nature journaling at work can be found in Hannah Jones, the founder of Wattle + Wonder. Hannah runs nature journaling workshops that help people to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of Australian native plants.

Woman walking through the forest and getting out in nature

Getting started with nature journaling

Eager to embark on your nature journaling adventure? Here are some tips to help you get started. For beginners, numerous free resources are available,

Select your spot

Choosing the right spot is crucial for a fulfilling journaling experience. Whether it’s a quiet park bench, a secluded forest glade, a rock beside the ocean, a peaceful lakeside retreat, or even your backyard, finding a place that resonates with you will enhance the connection between your thoughts and the natural environment. You can even go to a different place each time as long as you find a place where you can comfortably sit and observe. 

Can’t go outside? No worries… 

You can do nature journaling in the comfort of your living room. Observe indoor plants, cut flowers, pets, fish, or books or photos of plants/animals/birds/fish/insects for inspiration. 

One exciting way to do indoor nature journaling is to keep a plant journal. Read about how to start and keep a plant journal for tips on how to do this. Also, listen to Hannah Jones chatting about her indoor nature journaling practice and workshops (about 31 minutes into the episode).

Gather your supplies

Use only environmentally friendly and sustainable stationery, and even better if they’re botanical-themed covers!

Once you’ve got your nature elements, your favorite notebook or journal, and your writing, drawing, and painting implements, you’re ready to get cracking. 

Set your intention for the Session

Start by taking a moment to set an intention for your nature journaling session. Whether it’s to find tranquillity, gain insights or appreciate the beauty around you, having a clear purpose at the outset will enhance your experience. 

Observe & absorb

Spend time immersing yourself in your surroundings. Allow yourself to be fully present. Engage all your senses – listen to the sounds, feel the textures, smell the aromas, and pay attention to any feelings or sensations you may experience. 

Capture the moment

Once fully engaged in the experience, start writing, sketching, or painting your observations, thoughts, and feelings. For instance, you can describe the landscape, record weather conditions, or reflect on the emotions evoked by your surroundings.

Need a little guidance or inspiration? Check out Bethany Barton’s Journaling with nature podcast for journaling tips, tricks, and prompts.

Embrace creativity

Don’t be afraid to add visual elements to your journal. Remember, you are not there to create great art; you’re trying to capture a feeling, make a connection, and gather insights. As artist, naturalist, and nature journaling mentor John Muir Laws put it, “[in nature journaling] we are drawing to learn, not learning to draw.” 

Write poetry, sketch the flora and fauna, paint the changing sky, or paste in leaves and petals you collect during your outing – there’s no single ‘right’ way to do it. Everyone’s journal will look different. Just do what feels right for you, and don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and experiment with new techniques. 

Reflect & revisit

After your journaling session, take time to reflect on your experiences. Over time, revisit past entries and notice any patterns or themes. This can provide valuable insights into your relationship with nature and yourself.

FAQs

What are the benefits of nature journaling?

Sarah Keel’s elementary education teachers use nature journaling to connect their students with nature and its environment. The study suggests that journal use can benefit students as it increases their awareness of nature and provides a feeling of their place in their environment from two days ago.

What is the Purpose of Nature Journaling?

Natural journaling can improve your experiences and develop observations, curiosity, appreciation, and reverence. It enables people to learn and integrate information into existing information.

What to Record in Your Nature Journal

The choice is yours: How you’ll keep the information in nature journals. It would be nice to do something like this. Maybe you prefer to note everything you see or feel, which is okay.

I have found that drawing and painting help me focus on my subject longer. You should use both methods to experience a natural world as much as your child can do with excitement or awe. Keep concentrating on the five sensory senses. Tell me the scene. Tell me, what is the climate in a city? How are your perfumes made?

Some final thoughts on nature journaling

Life often pulls us away from our innate connection with the earth, and journaling with nature is a poignant reminder of the beauty and serenity surrounding us. This practice invites us to slow down, observe, and reflect – fostering a deep sense of well-being that transcends the physical and reaches our souls’ depths. 

Journaling with nature offers a pathway to a more balanced and harmonious life – whether you’re seeking stress relief, creative inspiration, or a deeper understanding of the natural world and your place in it.

Grab your journal or notebook and get started today

The best way to start a nature journal is to use an environmentally friendly and sustainable notebook, sketchbook, or journal — and go outside!

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