Spring is here! It’s time to come out of hibernation and step into the great outdoors. Not that we need any convincing, but for years, scientists have been claiming the importance of getting outside. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, reports that individuals who live within 1 kilometer (about 3/5 of a mile) of a park or a wooded area experience less anxiety and depression than those who live farther away from nature. Studies have also found that natural sunlight helps set the body’s circadian rhythm—our natural clock that tells us when to eat and sleep.
Do your body, mind, and soul some good—welcome spring by getting outside! Here are some of our favorite nature stories from Spirituality & Health to inspire you.
- When Pines Are Divine In Shinto—Japan’s indigenous religion—forests, streams, and trees are considered the homes of kami, or gods. Westerners who seek a greater connection with nature can learn so much from this spiritual system, which combines the acceptance of innovation and progress with the principle that nature truly does matter.
- Out of Her Element In this story, the author is torn between chasing a high-profile career in the city and nurturing her spirit through nature. After one inspirational camping trip, nature ‘followed’ this writer back to the city where she learned to seek out nature in the city itself.
- Witnessing Nature’s Story Without Words A chaotic modern life tends to hijack our attention, while new thoughts and ideas often come to us as we sit quietly in nature. Since our bodies have not changed in 200,000 years, could many of our modern day problems be caused by living in a world that is totally different from the one that was designed for us?
- The Things We Carry: A Backpacker Reflects on Her Relationship With Waste While camping in Sequoia National Park, every meal, every snack, and every bit of garbage must be pushed into a bear-resistant storage container—a process as difficult as ‘squeezing toothpaste back into the tube.’ This painstaking method causes the author to come face to face with the amount of waste the average American produces.
- Teresa Damron Climbs a Tree and Saves a Forest The Pacific Tree Climbing Institute (PTCI) offers guided climbing expeditions into the towering, ancient trees of the Pacific Northwest. Meet the founder Teresa Damon, a middle-class suburban mom with a fear of heights, showing that everyone can make a difference.
- Empowerment Through Fear: The Wild Things in Your Bathtub In various spiritual traditions, a totem, or spirit animal, is an animal that acts as one’s personal guide, messenger, or protector. But it isn’t always the animal you feel most connected to or have love for—sometimes it’s the one you fear the most.
- Memory Walk: An Everyday Ritual to Connect to Nature Learn how to experience the restorative powers of nature by taking a daily ‘memory walk.’ Begin by taking a short walk in nature. Pause often to take in all the information through your senses. Then when you are indoors, revisit the path in your mind’s eye, relishing in the sights, smells, and sounds as if you were there.