by Melissa Henry
In the realm of executive functioning coaching, incorporating nature-based activities can have profound benefits for students. The combination of being outdoors, engaging in physical movement, and connecting with nature’s serenity creates a conducive environment for fostering executive functioning skills.
In my work with executive functioning coaching, I often integrate walking or hiking into my sessions to tap into the calming and curative effects of nature and support students’ overall development. Spending time in natural surroundings provides a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and offers a sense of calm. My students greatly benefit from the change of scenery after spending most of the day indoors. The gentle rhythm of walking, the fresh air, and the sights and sounds of nature have a soothing effect on the mind and body. As we engage in movement amidst natural beauty, we experience reduced stress, improved focus, and enhanced emotional well-being. This serene environment sets the stage for productive coaching sessions.
Engaging in physical activity, such as walking or hiking, also has numerous health benefits. The release of endorphins during exercise promotes positive mood and mental clarity, which are essential for optimal executive functioning. Additionally, physical activity improves cardiovascular health, boosts energy levels, and enhances cognitive function. By incorporating walking or hiking into my coaching sessions, I provide an opportunity for students to boost their overall well-being while developing executive functioning skills.
I find that walking or hiking in nature encourages mindfulness and presence in the moment. I teach students to practice mindful walking by focusing their attention on the sensations of their bodies, the sounds of nature, and the beauty of their surroundings. This cultivates a heightened sense of awareness and supports the development of self-regulation, attention, and concentration. We process issues that naturally come up for them and plan out solutions.
The practice of being present in nature carries over to other aspects of life, enabling students to better manage distractions and stay on task because being in natural environments stimulates creativity and enhances problem-solving abilities. These sessions can serve as catalysts for generating new ideas and perspectives. This allows students to reflect, brainstorm solutions to challenges, and explore different angles of thinking while immersed in the tranquility of nature. The combination of movement, fresh air, and natural beauty sparks inspiration and encourages out-of-the-box thinking.
Sessions in nature also provide a unique opportunity for coaches and students to strengthen their bond and deepen their connection. This one-on-one time encourages students to express themselves freely and feel supported throughout their executive functioning journey. For me, the shared experience of being in nature seems to foster a sense of camaraderie and trust. My students often engage in open conversations with me, and I actively listen to students’ concerns and provide guidance in this relaxed and nurturing environment.
Incorporating time in nature into executive functioning coaching sessions offers a powerful way to harness the calming and curative effects of nature. It allows me to leverage the inherent benefits of being outdoors while engaging in physical movement and connecting with nature to enhance the coaching I offer. These sessions provide opportunities for emotional well-being, enhanced focus, creativity, problem-solving, and strengthened connections. By embracing time in the natural world, I create an environment that supports students’ holistic growth and fosters the development of essential executive functioning skills.