Health and Wellness

Nature Heals

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I believe that connecting with nature is one of the best things people can do in their lives to find happiness and clarity. When I was younger, I would spring out of my bed and I’d run down to the neighborhood park and meet up with friends and spend the rest of the day running through the woods.

As a kid I didn’t realize how freeing this was, I didn’t have a care in the world about getting cuts and scrapes or tangled up in spider webs; all I wanted to do was get lost in the woods and climb trees. As I got older, I got into sports and homework made its way into the picture and my friends lost interest in the woods so naturally so did I.

I feel as though most people in their adult life lose this interest in nature because other things come along and take precedence and their childlike sense goes with it. The closest I made it to nature around this time was when I would go fishing with my dad, which I had also given up at the time, or running through the woods for cross country, which wasn’t the same because I wasn’t taking in the beauty or even realizing that I was in the woods because the paths I was running were just tools to better my running capabilities.

Photo from the author’s personal collection.

Then senior year rolled around and two of my friends brought up the idea of walking around a local park and I didn’t think much about it until we made it to the trailhead and entered into a fairytale land from my childhood. As we started hiking down the path there were trees as far as the eye could see down a hill to the river, there was a cool breeze blowing on this warm spring day.

Everything was perfect and the neural connections in my head started reconnecting from when I was a child and I was in pure bliss. At that moment I felt like nothing could get to me. While hiking I realized that nature is art and depending on your beliefs there was no artist to create it and it’s always a work in progress. You could go back tomorrow and see something completely different from what you saw the day prior.

Even to this day walking through trails, which has become a common activity I enjoy, I feel so at peace and this real connection to nature almost like I’m supposed to be there. Walking through nature has really helped me clear my mind because when you’re out there all you have to do is walk and think, sometimes I’ll bring a hammock out to some woods and lay there for hours listening to music while thinking and taking in the surroundings.

Nature has given to me something that I can never return to it and it has never asked for anything in return. Spending time in nature can have a big impact on your health. According to the Taking Charge of Your Health and Wellbeing site from the University of Minnesota, “Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.”

Happiness is reason enough for me to go spend time in nature not to mention all of the other benefits. As fall is starting to bring temperatures down and paint the landscape a different color it is a great time to start getting outdoors and get reconnecting with nature, hope to see you out there.

By Michael Williams, Activist Writer

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