No, really. Go on. Get out, take a walk, take a hike, get out in the world. It turns out this is a great way to feel better, relieve depression, and improve your health.
Recently we went on a hike here in New Mexico, and five hikers were over 70, showing that you don’t have to be young (or in top shape). We not only had a great day–laughter, lunch, and a spectacular view–we all came back down the mountain literally with a new outlook on life. The peak where we hiked used to be used by local tribes for spirit quests, and looking out on the world from a new view really does put life back in perspective. It’s also good for you!
An article in Care2.com points out the growing field of Ecotherapy–where nature does the work to help folks feel better. To quote the article: “… in 2007, researchers at the University of Essex found that out of a group of people suffering from depression, 90% of those surveyed experienced higher levels of self-esteemafter taking a walk in nature and “almost three-quarters felt less depressed.”
An article in Psychology Today compares being outside in nature to Abraham Maslow’s ‘peak experiences’ and notes, “But the main reason why nature can heal and transform us, I believe, is because of its calming and mind-quietening effect. In nature, our minds process a lot less information than normal, and they don’t wear themselves out by concentrating. And most importantly, the beauty and majesty of nature acts a little like a mantra in meditation…”
Now you don’t have to climb a mountain to get this experience. A walk in the park, a day in the garden, a horseback ride, a trip to a nearby lake or river. The key here is to get out of the car (don’t make it just a drive) and get into nature. Go where the landscape is natural–not square buildings and straight lines. Go where the air is clean and scented by plants. Go where the sky is blue and maybe even stay to see the stars at night (the sky is filled with wonder at CLR after the sun goes down). Just get out…and take that hike.