Hey! Go Take a Hike!

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking” Friedich Nietzsche

I have had a lot of stress lately (professional, personal, and health-related). Yet when I think about my current situation, it does not feel like a new thing. My daily struggles are a song that I have heard repeatedly throughout my 44 years on this earth. It is nothing new. If hardship has not externally come into my life, my ego does a great job creating mental baggage. I worry too much.

Mental baggage is heavy. For the most part, I cope with this stress quite well, but occasionally I get paralyzed by it. A common theme about mental paralysis that I have noticed is that I feel no control over the situation. It is hard to cope when my mind goes on strike and moves into a survival mode. Essentially, my coping gets lost because the stresses feel stronger than my personal will power.

It is very important to exercise some action measures even when we feel beaten down (whether externally or internally). Taking action is the first step in taking back control or the reigns and building momentum back to a wellness state.

This post is about the go-to environment that gets me unstuck every time…yes, every time. As I think back over the last twenty-five years, there is a common background to the remedy: getting out into nature.

Pure and simple: NATURE.

Long grueling bike rides, hitting golf balls, fishing a stream, or going for all-day hikes, I am outside breathing in nature. Being outside for long periods allows my mind to settle and sort through all the baggage. Nature clears away from the excessive thoughts that I have and helps me return to the center of my being.

Nature is a sensory experience. It is the balm of the soul and the calmer of thoughts.

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery- air, mountain, trees, people. I thought: this is what it is to be happy” -Sylvia Plath.

Instead of me just blathering on about my experiences, here are some proven scientific facts about getting out into nature and what it does for you and your children:

  • Children and adults who play regularly outside have stronger mental acuity, concentration, and feelings of self-worth.
  • Children and adults also have a drastic decline in anxiety, depression, and obesity. 
  • Children who spend a large amount of time in nature have far fewer behavioral issues.
  • Children develop more vital problem-solving skills, resiliency, confidence, and social skills.
  • The sounds of nature shift the nervous system into a relaxed state.
  • Those who live close to nature have reduced diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, and stress.
  • Nature is also associated with a reduced risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death.
  • Spending time in nature (or outside) also drastically improves sleep duration and quality.

Take back control of your mental state by one of the easiest things you can do: Go outside and do something, anything. Now that spring is here, I will make up reasons to get out more and build back up my resiliency. 

“The mountains are calling and I must go” -John Muir

Be well

-MJ

*Resources used for the above bullet points came from: http://www.sciencedaily.com (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180706102842.htm), http://www.hyperbiotics.com (https://www.hyperbiotics.com/blogs/recent-articles/5-ways-spending-time-in-nature-benefits-your-health-and-your-gut), and http://www.itsallkidsplay.ca – Jean Orem.

Photo by Westboundry Photography- Chris Gil via Unsplash

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