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Nature and Stress

Posted by CRAIG WIEGARDT | March 01, 2017 :

I remember telling my dad one afternoon that I was stressed out. I was seventeen and life had brought on some anxieties. He told me to wait until I had a family with bills to pay, THEN I would understand stress. Thirty years later I understand what he meant, but the fact is people of all ages suffer from different levels of stress and anxiety. Some live with low or high levels of stress before a big test or performance. Others suffer with severe anxiety attacks every day. As a young man, I found out that my favorite place to spend an afternoon was walking on a trail with my girlfriend, my dog, or by myself. Exploring nature in a wide open field full of beauty could take all my anxieties and frustrations away.

Today I still find myself searching for nature when I need motivation. If I am having a bad day, I can turn it around with just a few minutes in the open air with the sun shining on my face.

Richard Louv writes about stress and nature in his book, Last Child in the Woods. He writes about a growing body of evidence indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for physical and emotional health. One study suggests that exposure to nature may reduce the symptoms of ADHD, and that it can improve all children’s cognitive abilities and resistance to negative stresses and depression.

That is amazing to hear, and a powerful tool for people of all ages. Fortunately, I figured this out years ago when I would take my dog for long walks in the open fields. Those walks helped me cope. I can only imagine what young kids do today to cope with stress and anxiety when they don’t have a quiet field or special trail to clear their mind.