It was a beautiful fall day. The air was cool, the sky was clear, and the leaves were turning beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow. We had decided to go on an adventure and enjoy the beautiful mountains we lived in. We didn’t plan on being gone for long. Just a quick trip on the ATV’s exploring the trails and taking in the beauty around us. Being the expert driver that I am, I was jumping over broken branches and flying over holes in the trails. My husband was in front of me leading the way. I could see quite a big hole ahead but felt pretty confident when my husband landed just fine. As I was leaning into the jump I fell off of my ATV but was still holding onto the handles. I have a fear of heights and to the left of me was a huge drop off the side of the mountain. I thought for sure the weight of the ATV was going to push me down into the deep dark mass of trees below. I somehow managed to push the ATV back up and off of me and I was grateful to be alive. As I tried to turn the ATV back on nothing happened. I tried several more times before I realized I was stuck. My husband had continued down the trail not knowing I was in trouble. As I sat there, all I could do was imagine the hungry bear that was going to eat me for lunch. I prayed, I cried, and I sat there in the quiet, surrounded by this beautiful tree-filled mountain waiting for my bear to come.
Finally, I heard my husband yelling my name. He was running toward me…my hero! Until I realized he was running…where was his ATV? He had turned around at some point and realized I was missing. He didn’t think I could be that far behind him so he just started to run looking for me. I’m not sure how far he had gotten before he too started thinking I must of fell off the side of the mountain and was some tasty treat for a bear.
We both felt a huge sense of relief once we were together again. My husband tried to get my ATV to start but it just wouldn’t. We were not sure how far into the trail we were. Do we backtrack or continue going forward? Again, we weren’t planning on being gone long so we didn’t bring any water, food, or supplies and had no cell service. We decided to move forward, the whole time my husband was pushing the ATV. We spent the next several hours walking, pushing, and pulling. We would get to a steep mountain and pray that the road was just on the other side of it. Instead, we would come across trees that had fallen, blocking the trail. We felt defeated. It was getting dark and we didn’t think we would ever get off that mountain.
Recent studies are showing that being in nature is good for your health…as long as you feel safe. That made me laugh because it made me think of the story above. That was one of the hardest days of my life and I definitely did not feel safe! But we have had many more wonderful days in nature that far outnumber that one bad day. Walking, hiking, floating on the lake, sledding down a mountain, riding bikes, even just sitting in the hot tub looking up at the trees. All so perfectly amazing, peaceful, and beautiful.
When you live in the city, you are surrounded by busy people running here and there. Everyone is in a hurry, cutting you off on the road, or trying to rush past you in a store. Most people barely say hello. They are looking at their phones or just too distracted to care. When you head into nature something changes. You look up and around, you breathe in the fresh air, and you find yourself relaxing.
Being in nature has been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, reduce muscle tension, enhance your immune system, lower anxiety, and improve your mood. Health experts, businesses, and people who work with children are starting to realize the importance of being outside, surrounded by nature. It can improve your physical and mental wellbeing, helping you be a better worker or student and just an overall happier person.
Find some time in your week to get outside. Go to the beach, the mountains, or your local park. Put your phone down and just take in the beauty that surrounds you. Your body, mind, and soul will feel refreshed, you should feel your stress levels go down and you might find a smile on your face or even catch yourself saying hello to someone.