Paige Zuckerman, Clinical Director

It might strike as a tedious ol’ notion that being in nature is abundantly healthy. It’s especially eye-roll inducing for folks who identify as introverts, have ability limitations or anxiety and depression issues, amongst other sometimes debilitating concerns. The science doesn’t lie, though, and since we’ve all been cooped-up for the past several winter months, I’d be remiss if I didn’t spout-off this age-old wellness conceit. 

Peace Through Pilgramage

There’s a specific peacefulness I personally experience during my Sunday hike ritual. I’ve been making said weekly nature pilgrimage for the better part of five years since a serious chronic illness diagnosis challenged me to upend and reform my entire life (a thing I am grateful for years on.) I know on the sparse Sundays wherein I don’t make it to the trail (freezing rain and particularly bad flare days do happen) I notice a quiet, simmering sense of stuckness and malaise transmits across my week. It’s nothing too loud, but just enough to be of note.  That tells me something, and fortunately the science bares out solid evidence of what I might be sensing. 

Be Like Water

Certain natural landforms and locales are rich with negative ions, miniscule, odorless and invisible molecules that humans can breathe in locations such as the ocean, mountains, and moving natural water sources.  Once negative ions enter the bloodstream, they are said to produce biochemical responses that can elevate our good-mood chemical serotonin. This may have a virtuous effect in helping to reduce depression and stress response, and give us an energetic boost. 

Enter Nature Regularly!

I know myself and many others I’ve had the pleasure to work and recreate with attest to this sense of deep, visceral stillness and recovery gained in the wilderness; whatever your particular zone of preference and ability level.

In our everyday lives, we are more often than not awash in electronic positive ions, which, belying their descriptive taxonomy, are not in fact good for us. Our screens are the newest modern appendage, and we’re almost never free of the under-hum of powered devices and public utilities. We’re so acclimated, we may only recognize it when we wander off to the wilderness and perhaps notice first a strangeness soon overcome by a serenity we don’t receive in everyday life. 

So, this springy month I challenge us all to enter into nature regularly, and however each of us can. Let’s allow for nature’s intended healing vibrations to do their work while we do ours. Now that’s enough of staring at this screen… let’s go outside.