Have you ever seen something so beautiful that you had no words for it? I know I have. That feeling when words fail and you just have to stop to take it all in is “awe.”
We often hear that word used to convey an overwhelming sense of terror — just think “shock and awe” — but there is so much more to inspiring a sense of awe than that. Alisha Gupta describes it as “the sensation of being confronted with something so vast that it forces us to reconsider our understanding of the world” in a recent New York Times article about the Mental Health Benefits of an Inclusive Outdoor Escape.
This feeling could be brought about by seeing something of great physical size and beauty, like the ocean or a forest, or something simple and fleeting, like a sunset or a flower in full bloom.
Gupta’s article focuses on the benefits of nature-based therapy, especially for people of color, and says that awe is a component of how it works. “While participants felt a range of positive emotions, it was awe that was most strongly correlated with improved well-being,” she states.
Nature-based therapy is also known as ecotherapy. The Japanese have another word for it: shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing.” This is not just beneficial for the mind and the spirit, but also for the body, often leading to lower heart rates, blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as decreased risk of diabetes, stroke and asthma. Not bad for a walk in the woods.
Which leads to the question you’re probably asking: what do the benefits of ecotherapy have to do with apparel trends? When it comes to rebalancing our wardrobes to adjust to our new world…everything! So, let’s talk about how trying to be intentional with our experiences in the great outdoors means making sure what we wear is up to the task.
It wasn’t too long ago that we were talking about Gorpcore and Cottagecore – terms that need defining before you really see what it’s all about. This one’s easy by comparison, GreatOutdoorsCore describes the apparel and accessories that enable your outdoor therapy sessions.
Bags are a natural choice for the great outdoors, keeping you organized and prepared and adding to the beneficial effects of ecotherapy. The Utilitarian Modular Pack and the Tactical Backpack, with their intentionally versatile design, make excellent companions for outdoor excursions.
Sometimes you want the same benefits you get from exploring the great outdoors, but time and gas prices necessitate something closer to home. You’ll probably find that there’s plenty to experience right in your own backyard. Check out the local wine bar or snag an outside table at that hole-in-the-wall restaurant you’ve been meaning to try.
Even just grabbing that book you want to finish and heading outside can do the trick in a pinch, and there are a few decisions to be made about what to bring with you. “Beach towel or chair? Barefoot or flip-flops? Sunglasses or baseball cap? Picnic basket or a single plum? Most importantly, what book did you bring along for company?” Throw it all in a simple tote bag and you’re good to go.
An Ecotherapeutic Example
Let’s look at these ideas in the framework of a more specific scenario – a forest resort that is creating an ecotherapy experience for its visitors, steeping them in that sense of awe and delight we’ve been talking about. With thought and intention, you can help them make this a restorative retreat for everyone involved.
Shop sustainably. Apparel and gear that is made responsibly shows that you and your customer have a healthy respect for nature and creates a well-rounded experience. SanMar’s guide to sustainable styles is a great place to start.
Be prepared. The Boy Scout motto holds true for outdoor experiences for anyone, not just scout troops. A colorful hip pack or a sturdy backpack keeps everything you need close by and a blanket is always welcome on cooler days.
Make it a team effort. Giving everyone something matching to wear adds to the feeling of going on an adventure together and sharing the experience. A logoed t-shirt, hoodie or cap also gives them something they can take as a keepsake, remembering the event every time they wear it.
Rebalancing our wardrobes can help open us up to the experiences that inspire awe and delight — and couldn’t we all use a little more of that right now?
Next month we’ll be heading back into the office — wherever that is — to talk about how people are working and how they’re dressing for it now. I hope to see you there!