Have you ever wondered why those outdoorsy people are so happy? They seem so calm and carefree while the rest of us are busy cramming in the last 15 minutes of lunch and hurrying back to work or running to the next thing on our list. We are a busy society. The World is in constant chaos. Anxiety and depression are at an all time high. It's why unplugging and getting out in nature is gaining in popularity. Those “outdoorsy” people may have figured it out.
I had very little exposure to the great outdoors as a child. Sure we went camping a few times, but hiking was a short walk to a picnic table, and by the time we set up the tent, we were ready to go back home. I was taught that campouts, fishing, and long hikes were for the boys, while I stayed home to bake with my mom. I’m terrible at baking. So when I figured out that I love being in nature and in the sunshine, I started to try new things. I picked up my first Paddleboard, picked up cycling, started hiking, and got out into nature. But what is it about nature that makes us all so happy? I’m not a doctor, this is from my own experience, but I may have a few ideas.
Being in Nature Can…
1)☀️Reduce stress- Looking at trees, plants, and beautiful scenery reduces stress. When we unplug from our phones and the world, even for a couple of hours, we can reduce our stress levels.
2)☀️Reduce pain- When focused on nature you may feel the effects of literally not focusing on your pain. Take it from someone who has MS and suffers pain for most of the day, nature distracts me. I’m in less pain when I’m outdoors. Also movement, even just walking, can reduce inflammation and calm the central nervous system.
3)☀️Improve our mood- Who wouldn't be in a better mood after taking time for themselves? You are soaking in that extra vitamin D and breathing some fresh air. This is your new found happy place.
4)☀️Link us to each other- Taking a hike with friends or paddling out on the lake builds connections. Some of my greatest talks are on those long hikes. When you’re not on your phone and multi-tasking, you are able to focus and just enjoy the adventure.
5)☀️Connect us to our environment and keep us in the moment- Take the time to look around you. I often find myself saying “Look Up!” when I take a group out on the lake. It’s amazing to see the calm settle over their whole body, as they take in the beauty surrounding them.
6)☀️Restore our overall well-being- People who enjoy nature and getting outdoors seem to be pretty chill. They have found what centers them. I know I have. Enjoying nature doesn't mean you have to suddenly take up canyoneering. Maybe it's a short nature hike or a walk in a park.
7)☀️Can be a very spiritual experience- Whatever spirituality means to you, it is your personal connection to nature. I've been in some of the most jaw dropping places, and think to myself, “What a gift from God! Thank you!”
Whether you plan a whole day or just a couple of hours to spend outdoors, you will notice a difference mentally and physically.~Tamra S.