February 12, 2019

Cultivate a Healthy and Happy Heart

This post is part of our Wellness & Nature series, featuring simple and inexpensive ideas to support physical and social-emotional health through nature-based activities.

As we explored in the first post of this series, Growing an Indoor Garden, indoor edible gardening is a simple way to foster a connection to nature while encouraging habits that support physical and social-emotional health.

In this post, I will reflect on the progress of my indoor garden, explore nature-based self-care ideas, and share two fun and creative outdoor activities that can help foster connections with others. 


Indoor Garden Check-In

It’s been over a month since my first entry into my garden journal – the day I planted my seeds! So far, everything has sprouted; the sorrel (a leafy green with a lemony flavor) has grown the most. I even used the sorrel to add some zing to a strawberry avocado smoothie

February is Heart Month so I plan to use the dill and oregano that has grown to make some heart healthy low-sodium recipe swaps

As I mentioned in the first post, in addition to herbs, I planted flowers using a few left-over seed packets from the summer. Because they’ve sprouted and have established roots, I transplanted them into colorful pots so they can continue to grow. 


Take Care of Your Heart

Self-care is essential for anyone or any organization supporting children’s health. Self-care doesn’t have to be extravagant and can be accessible to everyone, no matter their budget – that’s where nature comes in!

Ask yourself, how can activities in nature help me create a stronger self-care plan? Take a few minutes to write down some of your ideas. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Take a short walk outside when you’re feeling frustrated
  • Plan a weekend activity in a nearby park or garden
  • In between meetings, go outside and take a few mindful deep breaths
  • Find a spot outdoors and spend a few minutes writing down what you’re grateful for
  • Be mindful that good things take time; my corn plant is a constant reminder!


Connection and Creativity in Nature

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s a perfect time to connect with others while being active outside. Is your green space covered in snow? No problem! A simple activity I recently learned from my friend Katie at the Lockport Family YMCA in Buffalo, New York is snow painting; mix non-toxic paint and water in small spray bottles to use as ”spray paint” on the snow. Get creative with your designs and remember to snap a photo before it melts!

How might you use this activity to foster positive and supportive relationships between staff, students and families?

If it gets too chilly, bring the fun (and snow) inside for a STEM challenge. Break into teams (tips here) and make snowmen. Once each group has built their snowman, make predictions on how long it will take for the creations to melt inside.

*Snow photo courtesy of Lockport Family YMCA 

How are you cultivating a healthy and happy heart this month? Share your ideas on social media and mention @HealthierGen.

Daniel Hatcher

Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships | Alliance for a Healthier Generation