Get Outside and Play
So much research is coming out supporting what so many of us already knew, that nature and exposure to natural beauty dramatically improves our health and mental well-being.
Some of us live in the Black Hills out of good fortune, we were born here. Others because they paused on some distant family vacation long enough to realize that they had never felt as whole, healthy, or rested as they did here. That prolonged exposure to the sight and smell of ponderosa pine improves our sense of well-being in a way that is difficult to explain. That living on the edge of the forest and being able to see and smell the prairie in the next breath, leaves us rejuvenated in spirit.
In studies conducted in Canada, Great Britain, and the US, researchers chronicled decreases in blood-pressure, anxiety, depression and a 30% increase in happiness due to association with nature and Green Spaces. Just knowing that the forest is available for long walks and decompression decreases the likelihood of death and disease, even if you choose not to take advantage of the opportunity according to a study from the University of Glasgow.
Sadly, only one in four Americans are currently taking advantage of the curative benefits found in nature. A National Geographic article by Florence Williams claims that less than 25% of adults spend at least 30 minutes a day outside.
If nature is such a medicine, how much benefit could you get from a weekend hunting trip? Many of my clients over the years have expressed that they were refreshed, rejuvenated, and content after spending time on a hunt, even if they weren’t successful in tagging their quarry. Utah researcher, David Strayer calls it the “three-day-effect.” He tested groups and found that they averaged a 50% increase on creative problem solving tests after three days in the field.
For many of the small business owners and managers that have hired me over the years, a hunting trip is a mental trip to the chiropractor. Planning and guiding these outdoors men and women has always been a balm to me and watching them recharge their mental batteries and shed years of tension was like handing out bottles of water from the fountain of youth.
If there was only some way to make it even better.
Writing about those experiences has done that for me. New Zealand researchers discovered that patients who wrote about subjects that invoked their most deeply held thoughts and beliefs healed faster. Spending fifteen minutes each night writing about something you were truly grateful for led to longer and better sleep.
So thank you.
For the better part of my life, I have been able to do something I love and write and share about those adventures. It only took a few glances through the ranks of my classmates at our thirty-year reunion to see what many had sacrificed in pursuit of life in the big cities and corporate payouts.
As I write this, I can look out my window and still see in my mind, the eight bull elk that had yet to lose their antlers grazing in the alfalfa field below. Before this weekend, I hadn’t seen them since last hunting season. The grouse are strutting on their leks and the antelope are just beginning to drift away from their winter herds in anticipation of spring fawns. The recent spring rains and sunshine have begun to draw the native grasses from the ground and the trees are swelling with new buds.
Living here, teaching, guiding and writing have always felt like medicine to me. Science and researchers are just behind generations of mothers who have forever told their children, “Get outside and play.”
For your health, it’s time to take mother’s advice.