“I love Yosemite and Zion National Park, and have hiked and done rock-climbing at both places. But just getting on my mountain bike and doing a trail ride near my home or going for a windsurf on the nearby lake totally rejuvenates me, gives me more mental clarity and lifts my mood.”
Mikaya Heart, an author of books like “The Ultimate Guide to Orgasm for Women: How to Become Orgasmic for a Lifetime,” and a life coach, said in an email that there is a major connection between mental health and nature.
“Sometimes in social settings we are expected to fit into boxes that just really don't work, and that can make us feel very crazy,” Heart said. “Nature doesn't require those kinds of boxes, it has no rules about what we do and say.”
There are mainly only positives to being in touch with nature, depending on the level of devotion a person has to nature, she said.
“It allows you to be fully yourself, separate from external influences that don't benefit you,” Heart said.
“I suppose the disadvantage might be that it becomes more difficult to ‘fit in’ socially - but that seems secondary compared to the inner peace that comes from spending time in nature.”
For people who want to become closer to nature, she suggests trying different outdoor activities.
“There are many sports that are about playing with nature, such as kite flying and windsurfing,” Heart said.
“Hiking can be great fun - and if you are a runner, you can always run in parks. Walking meditation can bring you to a place of stillness just as effectively as sitting meditation - or you can choose to sit in natural surroundings rather than indoors.”
She has a personal story about the power of nature, and how it has changed her life for the better.
“As a child I spent a great deal of time alone in nature, and again later in life, when I was making big changes, I went to remote rural places where I didn't see people for weeks at a time,” Heart said.
“I have found this time with nature deeply refreshing and renewing for me.