The modern world we live in today is not designed to care for our primal needs. With the constant demand and luxury of technology, we are falling farther and farther away from activities that are essential to our wellness. The more we connect with gadgets and apps, the more we disconnect with what makes us human beings.
Our earliest ancestors popped up on earth about 300,000 years ago, and the industrial revolution happened around 1760. So that means for over 99% of our existence, human beings had no choice but to have an interaction with nature.
Today we can travel thousands of miles without even noticing changes in the environment. We can spend weeks inside without any sunlight or fresh air. Our eyes are always looking 12 inches ahead at our phones instead of looking out into the world. Today’s environment is the farthest we have ever been to the way we evolved to live. We are the only animals in all of existence that has created their very own cages. Comfort and efficiency have taken away what makes us human; the result is evident all around us.
In our modern world, we are facing rising rates of mental health issues and declining physical health. I believe that this is a direct result of our disconnection from mother earth. In short, our bodies can not handle distance from the natural world because we have not had time to adjust our evolutionary trajectory. Technology is evolving exponentially faster than we can change as organisms. We are not able to interact with our modern world on healthy terms, but there are things we can do to find balance.
There is no better way to handle the demands of this chaotic world than just to shut it off. My favorite way to shut things off is to take time daily, weekly, and monthly to get into nature in some fashion. By merely shutting gadgets down and connecting to the natural world, there is relief of stress/anxiety, a liberation of endorphins, and spiritual enrichment of the soul.
Lately, my stress levels have been higher than in past years due to a change in the career path that demands a rigorous travel schedule and unique challenges that I have never faced before. To me, this has all been “good stress,” but my body didn’t get the memo. Physically I have been holding a lot of tension in my shoulders/neck, which has been affecting multiple aspects of my life. Carrying tension and high cortisol levels from stress will affect your sleep and recovery, which will both lead to a decline in overall mental stability.
To mitigate this problem, I have made my connection with nature a high priority in my life. That doesn’t mean I am going on nature adventures all the time, but I strive to have some connection to nature every day. Even if it is just a 15-minute walk, I work to schedule it into my daily, weekly, and monthly routines. This practice helps to ease stress, become present, and overall appreciate life more.
In my day, I do my absolute best to get outside for a walk. Preferable right when the sun is coming up so I can get some good ole vitamin D. The goal is to cover at least a mile on the walk, but the more, the better. Walking is something simple that everyone can implement in their life. Even if you live in a concrete jungle, there are benefits to getting outside for a stroll. The key to making this walk worthwhile is not bringing your phone. Take time on the walk to breath in the fresh air, look at the landscape, and hear all the sounds around you. This practice can help the walk be more meditative.
Weekly, I get outside at least once for a workout or physical activity. Admittedly most of my fitness time is spent in the gym, but once or twice a week, I get out from under the fluorescent lights. Paddleboarding, beach volleyball, trail running, and fishing are all activities that I fit into my days as much as possible. For you, it may be something completely different. The point is to get outside and get some sweat going. It may be even doing a HIIT workout in the park or yoga outdoors. All that matters is that you are outdoors, connecting with a more natural setting, and switching up your routine a little bit.
At least once a month, I try to do what I deem as a nature adventure. These adventures take some planning and at least a day to complete. For me, the goal is to get somewhere I can surround myself with nature free of noise pollution and visual pollution. With a little bit of research, most people will be surprised by how close national and state parks are. Take advantage of these places and immerse yourself in whatever activities the park has to offer. In Florida, there are great opportunities to canoe, swim, and overall connect with bodies of water. In other states, there may be additional unique activities that one can participate in nature. The goal here is to become wholly immersed and take at least a few hours to disconnect from the modern world. Every time I can make this happen, I find that about an hour in, there is a great thing that happens. Disconnected from the chaos, I feel my stress melt away. My shoulders release tension and drop, allowing my neck to elongate to a natural posture. There is something about looking out to a beautiful view that humbles oneself and also reminds us that our problems aren’t as significant as they seem.
In conclusion, get outside! Especially if you have felt the extra weight of stress lately, then this may help you. Breathe, listen, look, and connect with the earth. I promise it will make you a happier and better person. If you have any questions, need some help, or would like to tell me what you think of this, then please reach out. I am always here to help and listen. One way that you can help me and others is to share this article. Even if you send it to one person, it would be much appreciated. Thank you!
With Big Love,