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The Power of Nature: From burnout to balance

Updated: Jan 21

During the early winter, I told some ISB colleagues that I was learning to recover each day of the school year. I was going to pay attention to and learn how to reset myself for a new chunk of the day once that three o'clock bell rang. I wanted to be able to transition into family time smoothly.

So I started paying attention to my time walking through the 100-year-old village and magnificent forest I lived in. Being present in every step, reflecting and being curious about the past, having conversations about the day, and dreaming and creating ideas soon to become this book, my business. This was recovery.

As an international teacher and instructional coach, I struggled to find time and ways to rest and recover from classroom demands. But when I moved to Belgium and started teaching at an international school nestled in the beautiful Belgian forest, everything changed.

In Brussels, my husband and I would take a walk through the forest, soaking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the natural world around us every day after school; we would share our thoughts and feelings about the day, meditate and focus on the beauty of the forest, and create and plan for the future.

Magical times were observing the sounds, sights, and smells. Naming trees and favorite spots took my mind away from the hustle and bustle of the day. The hugging trees and the meadow with the perfect fallen tree were the best spots to let it all go. The sunshine came through the thick forest in this meadow, ideal for meditation and vitamin D absorption. The trees were so tall and so varied.

As we walked, I could feel the day's weight slowly falling off my shoulders. My senses were heightened, and I could connect with my husband more profoundly. The more we walked and absorbed the beauty of the forest, the more my brain was stimulated, and my neural connections were activated. It was a form of recovery that I had never experienced before.

When we finished our walks, I was refreshed and ready to spend quality time with my family. Finally, I could be present with my children and help them with their homework, cook dinner, and play games. It was a significant change from the exhausted, burnt-out teacher I had been before.

The Belgian forest became a sanctuary for me, where I could find rest and recover from the stress of the day. It taught me the importance of caring for myself and finding time to become one with nature. Time in nature heightened all of my senses. These walks and bathing in the forest have taught my feelings to be once again active. The more connections between them, the more neural connections go off in my brain.

This was recovery. I could feel the weight fall off my shoulders!

Have you found a way to recover each day? Try one of these exercises to get started!

Help the environment and plant a tree for FREE by downloading my Becoming an Innovative Entrepreneur Companion Guide at

PS - This short story and exercises are an excerpt for my upcoming book, Less Stress, More Success: A Teacher's Guide to Work-Life Balance. I would love to hear what you think in the comments below.


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