You’ve probably heard that being out in nature is good for the body and soul. After all, there are scores of studies out there that prove this. The studies show nature can do everything from lessen your stress to help you recover more quickly from surgery. Nature can even help you to become a kinder, more compassionate person. I’m here to tell you this is absolutely true, even though hiking this trail was difficult physically.
The first thing I noticed during my trek along the Superior Hiking Trail was that my stress quickly disappeared. This happens on all of my long-distance hikes. I actually tried to be aware of my stress levels every minute so I could pinpoint the exact time they dipped down to negligible. Would it be the first few hours, or the second day, or after one week?
Well, I was several days into the hike when the realization just hit me – I was stress-free. You could have told me Thanksgiving was the next week, I was hosting 30 people and that I had to make everything from scratch, and I would not have cared. Not one little bit.
Healing Power of Nature
This second thing I noticed on this particular hike was that being out in nature really gives you time to think. That is, to really, really think deep thoughts and ponder everything imaginable. We might think we give ourselves “alone time” now and then, especially if we regularly read or take a walk or maybe play an instrument. But taking a break for a few minutes or an hour, while still worthwhile, is nothing like being alone with yourself for days.
In a similar vein, being alone with your thoughts can also lead to greater insights into problems or issues in your life. A lot of cool internal stuff can happen on a hike that’s very healing. It’s no wonder the Warrior Expedition program is so successful in helping combat veterans deal with PTSD.
And then there’s enhanced creativity. Yep, that’s been shown to be a by-product of being out in nature and moving, too. If I can’t figure out how to start or end a story, I’ll take a walk or go for a run. Inevitably, the words begin to flow.
Meditation, Mindfulness and the Outdoors
A lot is being said these days about mindfulness. About how helpful it is to be really focused on the moment and in the present, while acknowledging your thoughts and feelings. It’s easy to achieve mindfulness on a hiking trail. But, alas, we can’t hike every day, can we? I’m finding a perfect complement is to do some daily guided meditations or inspirational reading. The kind that direct you toward positivity and healthy thinking.
Doing that helps me keep the hiking buzz, if you will, when I’m not on the trail. One of my favorite sites for helpful courses and meditations is DailyOM. I’ve also purchased a pack of these LSW Mind Cards, which I really love. Try them both and see what you think!
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