Outdoor Antidote

Typically, I’m optimistic, cheerful, and have the smoothest moods. Most would probably say that I’m easy to get along with. 

But lately, I haven’t been getting along with myself. I’m feeling like I’m carrying a heavy backpack of life’s unfinished business. Being newly retired gives me even more time to overthink.

My psychology professor once told me I was too cerebral. Not only did I do my own thinking, I tried to think through things for everyone else. He had a point. 

I've recently been feeling weighed down. Sure, I could blame it on winter’s clouds and rain, but that’s never bothered me. So why now?

I tried self-analyzing, but I couldn’t seem to shrug off the heaviness.

I recalled an article from Psychology Today. The cure was right outside my door. Literally. The research overwhelming proved there is a direct correlation between being outdoors and achieving a positive mental health outcome. 

I was more than ready to go. Taking a lunch, water bottle, and an extra jacket, I stuffed it all in my back pack. I was ready to explore. 

It needed to be somewhere remote, preferably with zero cell signal. Hours of hiking without any distractions. Get through the forest to the ocean.

My oxygenated hike allowed me to open the filing cabinet that is my mind—where I’d stored way too much, and hadn’t been letting God sort it out with me. 

Prayer is easy when surrounded by nature. I deleted some mental files and came home less burdened.

The research concludes that besides feeling restored, nature-based recreation has the potential for decreasing symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. It did for me. 

If I’m overthinking; I’ll hike. It’s the medicine that I can take anytime. 

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