A nature journal is simply a record of your observations about the plants, animals, weather, landscapes, and any other natural phenomena that you encounter.
The primary aim of nature journaling is to cultivate a consistent practice of connecting with nature. I have found that taking time each day to write in my nature journal helps me relax my mind and rejuvenate my spirit. It is something that I learned from my mother, watching her greet each day with her journal and tea, saying hello to the natural world.
Now, when I look into the benefits of journaling, spending time in nature, making art, and quiet observation, it turns out that my mother was on to something: there is a growing amount of research studies that say, “This stuff is really good for us!”
These benefits can include reducing stress and anxiety levels, improving concentration and focus, helping to reduce cortisol levels, and promoting a sense of well-being.
My Simple Nature Journaling Process
The beauty of a nature journal is that it can be as unique as each one of us. Yet, I find that having a flow to follow makes things easier and helps build a lifelong habit.
Here is my simple process that you can use as a starting point:
1. Sit Down and Settle In
Find a place to sit where you can be in nature, whether a garden, on a hike, or even your window seat. Then, take five big full belly breaths, to help ground you into the present moment. As you do, say a simple “Thank You.” Giving thanks is one of the core routines of nature connection and a wonderful way to start your journaling.
2. Start Coloring
I always keep a few coloring postcards in my journal, because coloring is an effective tool for dropping into a creative flow. Pick a color you spot around you, the blue of the sky, the yellow of a flower in bloom, anything that stands out to you. Then as you begin coloring, pay attention with your other senses. What (or who) do you smell or hear? What can you taste on the air? How does the day feel?
3. Quick Check-in
Now that you’ve paid attention to the natural world around you, jot down the Date, Time, Location, and Weather in your journal. Then take note of “What’s Happening” with both words and a simple field sketch to capture the key elements of your observations.
4. Appreciate and Go on Your Way
Set down your journal and simply soak in your surroundings. Breathe slowly, really noticing the quality of the air, the sounds, and even the art you’ve just created. Feel gratitude to yourself for showing up and checking in, and then pack up your supplies so they’re ready for next time.
Whether I’m sitting for five minutes or several hours, this is the formula I follow. The Quick Check-in can, of course, expand into a full art-making experience, a longer written entry, or a detailed field sketch.
There’s something special about taking the time to sit down and write about your experiences in nature. It’s a way of slowing down and really savoring the moment. And it’s good for our well-being, too.
Give it a try: Simply grab a notebook and head outside. Let nature be your muse, and see what happens. You might be surprised at how good it feels to just be present in nature, letting your observations flow onto the page.