Nature & Well-Being: A Guest Post by Allie Middleton

February 12, 2021

The other day while hiking at Wolf Creek Falls, we came upon the frozen creek and several sets of beautiful waterfalls, each creating magical myriad designs reminding us of the enchanted images and shapes from childhood fairy tales and primordial mythologies.

As ‘corona time’ has upset our habits of traditional gatherings and our former socially determined creature comforts, it seems we have all been venturing out into the wilderness. Our preserves are havens of health and beauty. Whatever your orientation towards fitness, our relationship with nature has certainly been changed, and learning about our local environments can be inspiring. The good news, as we are also reminded each day, is that breathing fresh air becomes essential for our mind, our bodies and our souls, and our spirits.  Seems a great way to nourish friendships, too!

In learning how to create healthy habits during ‘corona time’ it might be useful to know a bit about the healing powers of nature, how walking and breathing outside helps us stay healthy and well.  And the extraordinary beauty of our surroundings never ceases to amaze.

Wolf Creek Falls photo by Susan Mitchell-Herzfeld

In Rainer Maria Rilke‘s wise little book Letters to a Young Poet, we listen and learn,

“If you trust in nature, in what is simple in nature, in the small things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling. Not in your conscious mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in your innermost awareness, awakeness, and knowledge.”

While hiking the preserves, many of us are finding solace and comfort from the trees, the sounds, the vistas, the diverse landscapes, and all the other surprises just around the next corner.

We hope you continue to enjoy the preserves and post photos and fun things you see, hear, and learn about!  Connect with MHLC on Facebook.

Allie Middleton is a member of the MHLC Board of Directors, a writer, a transformational mind-body coach, and a consultant who avidly explores the wilderness within us and without us. You can find Allie’s books on Amazon:
Yoga Radicals: A Curated Set of Inspirational Stories of Transformational Yoga by Pioneers in the Field

A Wayfinder’s Wanderings: A First Collection of Poems: A First Collection of Poems

Below, are a few resources Allie has shared about how being in nature helps health and well-being, creativity, and social engagement.

“The experience of hiking is unique, research suggests, conveying benefits beyond what you receive from typical exercise. Not only does it oxygenate your heart, but it also helps keep your mind sharper, your body calmer, your creativity more alive, and your relationships happier. And, if you’re like me and happen to live in a place where nearby woods allow for hiking among trees, all the better: Evidence suggests that being around trees may provide extra benefits, perhaps because of certain organic compounds that trees exude that boost our mood and our overall psychological well-being. Hiking in nature is so powerful for our health and well-being that some doctors have begun prescribing it as an adjunct to other treatments for disease. As one group of researchers puts it, “The synergistic effect of physical activity and time spent in nature make hiking an ideal activity to increase overall health and wellness.”

“As it turns out, walking in general is good for the creative process. Other research from Stanford University found creative thinking increases when a person is walking, as well as shortly after the walk is complete. ‘Many people anecdotally claim that they do their best thinking when walking’ said the study’s authors.’ We finally may be taking a step, or two, towards discovering why.”