Nature is therapy

Do you enjoy nature?

My love for hiking and being outside in general started as a young girl. Our father took us on walks in the woods a lot in the spring and summer; he was a deer hunter and was scoping the landscape for the best deer stand positions in the Fall.

I also talked a lot on those walks and probably scared away the wildlife.

We didn’t have a lot of money and that required a bit of creativity. We are lucky our parents were able to take time for breaks in their work schedules to be with us. That time was used to explore and learn about the world around us.

My passion for the outdoors really came alive during the first visit to the Grand Canyon when I was 12 or 13 years old. That was a cross-country trip in our father’s pick-up truck. We hiked one of the Grand Canyon trails that took us to the Colorado River. By the way, I wanted to be one of the female forest rangers there for many years after.

Being outside can have therapeutic effects – improve your mood, ease anxiety and stress, and depression. This is called ecotherapy. I definitely have noticed being happier after a simple walk and that probably attributes to why I smile a lot. One of our neighbors used to tell me “you always look happy” while walking the dogs around the neighborhood.

You don’t have to go on long ventures to reap any benefits. Just 5 minutes outside in a natural setting (walking in a park or gardening in your backyard) can improve your motivation and self-esteem. It’s also been known for a long time by scientists that sunlight exposure can ease depression.

We all need a way to recharge and one way is to “rest.” How we choose to “rest” is different for everyone. Some people prefer to do something creative (draw, paint, write), listen to music, take a bubble bath (I love bubble baths!). But my preference is to do something outside each day, in nature, rain or shine. It is relaxing and restful to me.

My first book (Real Things: 6 Ways to Embrace Life) touches on this subject to remind others to make time to explore. Get outside and look at life as an adventure. This helps you appreciate what you have.  It also helps you create a daily rhythm – using the term “life balance” is used a lot –  but rhythm is probably more accurate description.

We recently came back from a trip to Maine, to explore the coast, eat seafood, and fit in some hiking. (This is why I haven’t written anything for a couple of weeks. Did you miss me?) This Maine experience was great and I’m so thankful our life rhythm allows us to do so.

At a young age, our father instilled in me the importance of exploring nature and to put myself in different surroundings that allows me to view the world through a different set of eyes. My husband and I both understand this, which has a positive effect on our marriage.

I hope reading this encourages you to take a break. You can explore a local park or stay at home and read a book in the backyard.

Use your imagination.


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