Mental Health

Blog post description.

Legend Has It

2021-01-23 2 min read

Get Outside! Your Mental Health Will Thank You!

There are a lot of physical health benefits to outdoor sports and exploring. It’s pretty obvious that hiking can help your endurance, leg strength, lungs, etc. There’s even a lot of talk about getting Vitamin D from the sun. But today, we are going to talk about another major benefit that is intwined with outdoor adventures: mental health.

Disclaimer: none of our team members are certified mental health professionals, the following is from our personal experiences. Please seek help from a qualified health professional if you suspect you are dealing with any health problems, emotional or otherwise.

As brothers, we grew up in a small farming community. We often spent our free time exploring the desert and river bottoms. While pursuing our different graduate programs, we both ended up in major metropolitan areas. We also both ended up suffering from an occasional panic attack. For me (Andy), I could escape the stress and anxiety by hopping on my bike and riding along the canals and countryside of the Netherlands. My wife even jokingly kicked me out for a weekend to go on a bike trip to find some wilderness, build a shelter, and feel grounded again. That was a major moment for me. I came home more rejuvenated and energized than I had felt throughout my entire graduate program. For me, exploring outdoors is more than a hobby, it is my personal refuge. My place to unplug. A place to recenter. A place to stop the cacophony of crazy coming at us from news, social media, work, relatives (that’s right, Nate, I just said that), etc.

 My favorite bit of nature is the mountains. Getting myself to the top of a peak, smelling the moss, seeing traces of animals, breathing the thin air, tasting some wild huckleberries: it doesn’t get much better than that. That is my perfect place. I can’t describe why, but it gives me strength to continue on through the day in and day out of this rodeo of life.

 My wife’s taste in nature is totally opposite. She grew up in a very suburban area in California. Her perfect wilderness is the beach. She keeps telling me that as long as there is a sunset on the beach somewhere, things are going to work out and everything will be okay. She will stay and watch the sunset till the sky is completely dark, commenting every few moments how the sunset just got more beautiful. I usually am pretty ready to leave after about 5 minutes, but I stay. I stay because I can see that the sunset is recentering my wife and bringing her the same peace that I get in the mountains.

I have spent the last year working from home, as many others have. Some days, things are so busy that I don’t even leave our home. Too many of those days in a row starts to make me feel a bit stir crazy. However, when I prioritize my mental health and take time to go on a bike ride, hike, run, or simply walk with my daughter, life is better. My brain relaxes a bit. My stress levels go down. My optimism rises. Things are just better when I choose to be in nature.

What about you? How often do you choose to be in nature? Is it enough? Where is your happy place in nature? Are you a desert person? Mountains, plains, rivers, creeks, hills, caves? There is so much to be explored! Take the leap. Go outside. Find something new to explore. Try unplugging. How does being outside help your emotional state?