I sometimes find myself guilty of falling into a mindless routine, going through the steps of each day without truly experiencing anything. If I need to burn off some energy, I go to the gym. If I need time alone to think, I close myself in my bedroom. If I am feeling down, I talk to friends or family. However, I realized that I no longer utilize nature for these needs as much as I used to.
Recently, I was visiting my father’s childhood home which includes a farmhouse and many acres of land. When I visited this home in the small town of Melbourne, Kentucky, I instantly was transported back to the feelings of my childhood. I found that my family spent hours this day hiking in the woods, exploring new trails and enjoying the beautiful weather that we were blessed with this Christmas, just like we used to when I was a child.
During this day, I realized that it had been three years since I hiked in these woods which I used to visit multiple times each year. I had forgotten how freeing it felt to hear nothing but leaves crunching, twigs snapping, and the subtle sound of the breeze. Spending time in nature, even if the setting is not as majestic as Yellowstone or the Rocky Mountains, allows us to center ourselves and be brought back down to earth.
The benefits of this hike were far greater than what I feel after I leave the gym, spend time alone in my room thinking, or having sought advice from friends. Sure, my gym shoes got muddy, and I had a couple of scratches from thorns, but for the rest of the day I had more energy than normal and was in high spirits.
During this hike, my cousin said to me, “Isn’t it weird that when you are sick or feel bad, it is so easy to notice, but when you feel good, you have to actively pay attention to that feeling to notice it?”
When we are sick or feeling subpar, we wish so badly that we could feel good again; however, I encourage everyone to appreciate feeling good when we are actively feeling good. Take time to stop and notice when you are feeling healthy, happy, and strong. Embrace that feeling and find ways to foster it.
Take hikes, walk your dog in a new park, or meditate outside. Nature can provide us with much more comfort and happiness than we may think. If you incorporate nature into your weekly routines, you may be surprised to see the benefits.