Dawn is cold in April! But that doesn’t stop Ruby and I from doing what we love to do on a regular basis: running the trails in the woods. Waking up to singing birds and dimly lit stars in the morning sky, we set off to our favorite place to run whenever we can.
Nature is so powerful. I’ve turned to her all throughout my life seeking catharsis for one reason or another. She’s been there to heal my broken heart, fulfill my nomadic desires, dispel life’s illusions, or give me the opportunity to get lost in my own dreamy thoughts. My relationship with nature brings me great joy.
I believe it is important to have a special place in nature that one can return to repeatedly, a place one can really get to know and feel a sense of intimacy with, where the “earth-sky” can become one’s trusted friend or mentor. My running trail is that place for me.
It seems like whenever we are together the trail somehow compels me to dismiss my least so I can discover my most. It simply knows how to bring out the best in me, replenishing my body and soul with every visit. In fact, I’ve grown to rely on it to maintain my own psychological well-being.
I have been involved in research pertaining to “green exercise” as a treatment for mental distress over the past few weeks as part of my job in health education. I presented the first of several new seminars on this subject at several client locations this week. There is considerable evidence that physical activity in natural environments has proven health benefits. These benefits include: reductions in stress-induced depression, reduced mental fatigue, reduced aggression, mood elevation, and increased concentration.
And did you know that gardening is considered green exercise? It not only facilitates physical activity by requiring strength and stretching, but also promotes emotional well-being. In a hands-on way, planting, digging, hoeing, pruning, and growing can be thought of as metaphors for healing what’s going on inside. In addition, the repetitive nature of these tasks can be very soothing for the mind.
Gardening also helps to eliminate stress by putting us in touch with our roots as gatherers of food in order to meet our basic survival needs. And of course our moods are elevated when we experience the rewards of our efforts! What could be more nourishing for our minds and bodies than fresh vegetables from our own garden or the lovely scent of homegrown flowers? Just one pot indoors or a few on a patio can give us vegetables, flowers, colors, and fragrance which we create and nurture.
This spring, try to get outside even more. Let’s get going and perhaps growing amidst the beauty of nature!
Wishing you the very best in health and happiness,
Check out the veggies this guy is growing on his deck!
Source: Nature Involvement Increases Hedonic and Eudaimonic Well-Being: A Two-Week Experimental Study Passmore Holli-Anne and Howell Andrew J.. Ecopsychology. September 2014, 6(3): 148-154. doi:10.1089/eco.2014.0023.
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