When I was a little girl I would beg my mom to let me be “nature girl”. By definition, nature girl means: a person with xx chromosomes who uses the great outdoors or a sandbox to (daintily) pee. In my adult life when I recall this memory, I’ve had a hard time understanding my innocent child desire to abandon the modern luxury of a flushing toilet for the great outdoors….until now.
Having just returned from Aspen where I spent the week immersed in the Colorado Rockies, I recognize how starved I was to feed off the grace, rhythm, and generosity of nature–and I didn’t even know I needed it until I returned to the chaos of artificial city living.
I went on several day-long hikes, where in exchange for giving up a porcelain toilet and Charmin Ultra Soft, I had the privilege of walking through gravel, dirt, mud, ice, creeks, scaled rocks, crossed rivers over tree trunks, got bit by mosquitos, saw countless lakes, waterfalls, never-ending sky, and purple and red mountains. I witnessed beauty and vibrant life from every corner I could see. Within a just few hours, I felt part of something bigger than myself, at ease with my place in the world, and had a renewed sense of my own vibrancy. I noticed the tension I usually carry in my jaw dissipate. This is what I call relishing life.
I did some research when I got back and discovered that scientists are attributing some of the obesity, stress, and health epidemic to a “nature deficit”. Our busy lives prevent us from connecting to the earth which seems to be creating a negative impact on our wellbeing. After my week in the Rockies, I don’t need a scientific report to know that I need to make it a more regular occurrence to find local wilderness to just go and Be.
So here are 5 reasons why YOU need to get into nature this weekend and be a naturegirl or nature boy yourself:
1. Soothe the mind body and spirit. Unlike watching a film or seeing art, when you are in the great outdoors you get to smell, hear, taste, and really feel the beauty of nature. The experience of feeling natural beauty with every one of your senses is all encompassing.
2. Get present by losing your story. We walk around all day holding onto our stories: how that person cut you off on the road, how your boss is horrible, how your parents didn’t love you enough, etc. Stories create bubbles that fog our ability to be present with our lives. When you submerge yourself in nature and begin to navigate the terrain, your stories and blocks begin to evaporate, creating space for you to be in the moment.
3. Improve health by grounding yourself. There is something about walking and being physically in touch with the raw earth that can’t be replicated in city life. When you are in contact with the physical earth new studies are showing that you receive the earth’s electronic activity which promotes optimum health. (Don’t believe me? Google “grounding.”)
4. Disconnect from your phone. There are few occasions these days where we have an excuse to be out of touch. As a general rule, our national parks and wildlife have no cell towers so spending time in these places is a good way to guiltlessly (or force yourself) to disconnect.
5. Have fun! Life lacks richness and fulfillment if you aren’t having a little adventure and a good time. Pack a picnic, spend quality time with friends and loved ones, maybe skinny dip in a remote lake….these are small things that add up to a life that feels worth living.
Arielle is a Mind Body skills expert and a certified life & wellness coach helping people heal from life's stress through Mind-body Medicine. To learn schedule a complimentary consultation, more about her services and to get more insight into mind-body wellness, visit her website, www.relishlifela.com.