A Daily Nature Practice

Playful Self-Care for Healthcare Professionals

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"I just wanted to say how thankful I am for taking this online course during this weird and crazy time. I truly feel like my daily nature practice is one of the major things keeping me grounded right now."

– Kelly, Recreation Therapist, Canada

"That was amazing! Thank you for slowing my mind and body. To bring nature to the forefront of my life and remind me how to play again has made such a difference. Each day I see the world in a different way. Taking nature breaks energizes me. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us as well as being patient while we take the time to finish the whole course!"

– Georgina Hartman, Recreation Therapy Assistant, Sherwood Park, Alberta


Having trouble focusing these days? Especially on self-care?

Or maybe you're feeling crazy busy caring for others?

Noticing nearby nature may be just what you need in your daily life. It's an evidence-based self-care practice, and
benefits are often felt immediately.

My students report feeling joy and rejuvenation, with improved mood and ability to focus.


This experiential online course is an 8-week interactive guide to savouring nearby nature for personal and professional self-care.

You’ll be guided through the process of creating enjoyable new habits to improve how you feel and function in your daily life.

The content is both playful & profound

I’ve carefully curated relevant research findings, nature photos, quotes, poetry, and real-life stories to inspire and inform you.

The sensory activities and self-reflections can be easily personalized to suit your unique nature interests, your location and the time you have available.

You're invited to share with other students in the comments right within the course, on your own time. Stories and photos are already there for you to enjoy.

For Recreation Therapists:

Content is CE Pre-Approved by NCTRC for 12 hours

“One of the most intriguing and most useful, practical courses I’ve taken in quite a while. So fun, informative and extremely useful practice of self care that can often be neglected. I was skeptical of online, but content was fun, delivered with a variety of tools such as video, poems, books. Such a perfect way to learn at my own pace. Loved it! Thank you!”

– Anonymous student evaluation


The nature activities will reawaken your senses to the beauty and wonder of your natural habitat, including your sense of curiosity and fascination.

“I just realized the other day when I was out for a walk, that prior to this course, if I was out walking, I’d be lost in thought. I could walk for an hour and not really take note or observe my surroundings in any detail as I’d be thinking, planning etc.

Now, when I’m outside for a walk, getting fresh air, I’m actually “lost in nature”. I’m observing colours, textures, tiny bugs, changing colours of plants, new emerging flowers and buds on trees, fluttering and songs of birds and sounds of insects.

I’m slowing down on these walks, and feel rejuvenated, refreshed, more connected to my world and surroundings. It makes me laugh a bit. I feel like I have a new set of eyes and ears now!

– Lindsay Hooton, Recreation Therapist, Coquitlam, British Columbia

Six learning sessions are presented over eight weeks, with two implementation weeks (weeks 3 and 6). Each of the six sessions includes two hours of learning, for a total of twelve hours.

"As a result of taking Shelagh's course, I realize how important it is to give myself a nature prescription. Even though the primary focus of my work is helping people connect with nature, I was always too busy caring for the well-being of others to take a break on my lunch hour. Now I find myself eating outside, going for a quick walk, or stopping to pick flowers.

I realize that I have more to give by giving myself permission to take a break and look around. I don't have to go far to feel reconnected to nature and part of something greater than myself."

- Emma Rooney, Creativity Facilitator & Founder, Blooming Caravan, Toronto, Ontario

Your Instructor

Shelagh Smith, HTR, MAEEC
Shelagh Smith, HTR, MAEEC

As a registered horticultural therapist and online educator, I am passionate about promoting the health and well-being of people and planet through daily engagement with nearby nature.

For 23 years, I developed and facilitated therapeutic garden programs for seniors living in care homes, while supervising and mentoring many students and volunteers. I taught people with mental health issues how to grow their own food, collaborated on the design of restorative and enabling gardens, and created and taught a 130-hour Horticultural Therapy Certificate Program.

My current focus is to inspire healthcare providers and caregivers to notice and engage with nearby nature for self-care. Sensory nature play is a joyful daily practice for me, a source of nourishment and delight, and an evolving journey that I'd love to share with you. Join me, as we learn together to thrive with nature.

"It was amazing! I found that since I have done the course, I really notice nature in a different way, a deeper and more meaningful way."

I really feel a difference in my body…. I find when my stress is so high, I notice nature more. I worried sometimes and wondered if it was dissociating, but then I realize it is a moment of sanity in amongst the stress. It is something that is truly grounding me right now. Noticing the mountain ridge today just made me feel like everything was all going to be okay, and I think nature is there to serve as a reminder of that. The constant beauty and simplicity of it is such a gift!”

- Janay Babuin Funk, Recreation Therapist, BC, Canada

Course content is delivered in a creative mix of videos, slideshows, text, pdfs, photos & graphics, and a weekly printable worksheet.

This is what you'll learn, week by week:

Week One is for settling into the course, meeting your fellow students, getting familiar with everyday sensory nature awareness, including micro-breaks and playful self-care, and appreciating how you already notice nearby nature.

Week Two is about savouring simple everyday pleasures, rediscovering sensory nature activities to enjoy, and considering which activity you might want to make into a daily habit.

Week Three is an implementation week.

In Week Four, we'll focus on feelings that can result from everyday interactions with nature, including fascination, joy and wonder. You'll learn how to look at nearby nature in new ways, and how this can reduce unwanted stress.

In Week Five, you'll set an intention and get specific about your chosen daily nature ritual. We'll also focus on hearing the sounds of nearby nature, and deepening our nature appreciation skills.

Week Six is an implementation week.

Week Seven introduces techniques for implementing and sustaining your daily nature practice, while developing a deeper awareness of the benefits you're receiving. We'll explore touching and holding nature objects and figure out how to fit 20-minute restorative nature breaks into your day.

In Week Eight you'll amplify the benefits you're receiving with playful techniques for paying quality attention and for creating personal meaning from your daily nature experiences. We'll explore our sense of smell and review the main ideas from the course.

Additional resources will be available each week for those who wish to dive into them, and bonuses will be made available as the course wraps up.

“I really enjoy your evidence-based information and the course was awesome – I would love to take another course with you, on just about anything!”

– Jessica, Recreation Therapist & Registered Nurse, Canada

"It’s amazing to be in this course at this time when there is so much uncertainty. Reading everyone’s comments, learning about stress and self care and connecting with nature has helped me keep things in perspective. Thank you so much Shelagh and everyone!

My awareness and appreciation of nature is really expanding. So very inspiring! So many simple things we can do that can bring so much joy! "

- Carol Shoji, British Columbia, Canada


But, but...

I'm too busy. I don't have time to do the course

It's when I was too busy that I most needed nature breaks, even short ones. Those breaks gave me more energy, concentration and perspective, not to mention relief!

I don't want to spend more time on the computer

I'm with you! That's why I provide a worksheet each week. Print it off and take it outside with you, or wherever you choose. The worksheet includes key points, activities, and self-reflection questions for the week.

I'd rather do the course at my own speed, with no requirement to keep up or to comment

I hear you. You can go at your own speed and take as long as you like to complete the course. You're not required to comment or interact with me or the other students unless you wish to.

I live in a dense urban area without nearby nature to enjoy

Cities can be wonderfully stimulating cultural environments, and if you're thriving there, that's terrific! Your interest in this course suggests that you'd like to connect more with nature in your daily life. You'll learn creative ways to see nearby nature that you may not have noticed before, and you'll learn simple ways to add more nature content to your everyday life, where you live, work and play.

"Prior to taking the course, my time spent in nature could often be 'mindless', when I would be focused on my thoughts and not aware of my environment. I now make a conscious effort to say thanks and honour my environment and allow nature to heal and enrich my soul."

- Sherry Dodson, Horticultural Therapist, Ontario, Canada

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
The course runs for 8 weeks, starting September 27, 2020. The course is self-paced, and you have access for one year. If you're a recreation therapist and would like the CEUs, you must complete the course before January 9, 2021.
How long do I have access to the course?
You'll have access to the course and the comments for one year after enrolling. This gives you lots of time to complete the modules at your own pace.
What if I'm unhappy with the course?
Do let me know so I can improve the course and your experience. If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact me in the first 30 days and I will give you a full refund. Better yet, let me know within 28 days to ensure that I can provide the refund in time. Once 30 days are up, I am no longer able to give you a refund.
How is the course interactive? Will I need to be awake in the middle of the night?
We'll interact by commenting right within the course. You can type your comments, as well as share photos of your nature experiences, and link to videos or online resources. You'll get to read each other's stories on your own time, and respond if you wish, by typing in your replies. You're encouraged to share favourite books, websites, articles, etc that are relevant to noticing nature as self-care. The comments are one of my favourite parts of the course. I get to hear how you're doing with the activities, respond to any questions you have and cheer you on! No matter where you are in the world, you don't need to get up in the middle of the night to participate in live conversations. What a relief!

"This course is truly fantastic! I was in a sad place when I first started and getting out in Nature and seeing life in a different perspective has really lightened my being.

Thank you, Shelagh. I truly believe this course came along at the right time."

– Debbie Boef, Instructor of Recreation Therapist Assistants, Okanagan College, Kelowna, BC


Giving Back

3% of your course enrollment fee will be donated to The Nature Conservancy.

Their mission: Conserving the lands and waters upon which all life depends.

Their goal: A world where people and nature thrive.

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