Get outside

Being in nature — whether on a trail, in the countryside, or at a local park, green space, or garden— can reduce stress, calm our minds, boost our mood, and improve our overall mental and physical health.

It can also buffer the negative impacts of ACEs and toxic stress. The result? Stronger relationships, better communication, and healing from trauma.

2 ways to experience nature

  • Use all your senses
  • Enjoy nature without barriers

Spending quality time outdoors opens up our senses to our surroundings. Taking in the sights, smells, and feelings of nature can help us reduce stress and calm anxiety.

You might have already seen the 5-4-3-2-1 Method on our Effects of ACEs page. It’s also perfect for being present in nature!

When you’re enjoying your time outdoors, think about:

  • Five things you can see
  • Four things you can touch
  • Three things you can hear
  • Two things you can smell
  • One thing you can taste
    (like a trail snack, mmmm)
Some of us experience barriers to spending time outside, including transportation limitations and feeling safe.
Try these activities:
  • Walk or wheel around the block. Invite others to join you or start/join an existing walking group at your local library or community center.
  • See if your county, local community center, or neighborhood family center has outdoor activities. Often these are low-cost or free.
  • Try out a hike for mental health or visit one of the hundreds of parks and trails in California.
  • Clear any debris from a small area of grass you have access to and stand in your bare feet. Focus on your senses and the feelings of being connected to the earth.
  • Listen to nature sounds on YouTube or streaming platform
  • Take care of a plant or start a small garden in a planter box.
  • Sit outside in the sunlight, or open your window coverings to let in natural light.


Nature as a Pathway for Healing from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
Try this 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Exercise on a Nature Walk
Mini Meditation | Appreciate Nature