“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” - John Muir
How are you managing during these unprecedented times? Heightened uncertainty, conflicted messaging and new protocols in place for almost everything that are regularly changing. Up until 6 months ago, I had never even heard the term “social distancing” and the idea that a mask had been added to the “must bring when I leave the house” list would have been absurd. Yet, here we are.
As humans, we crave a certain level of certainty and when that is in jeopardy, it can have a profound effect on the psyche; anxiety, worry and added stress.
For many, getting out on a trail or on the water provides a necessary connection to nature, a semblance of normalcy and a respite from the 24 hour news cycle, something we can all use.
When the Hamilton Conservation Authority announced a re-opening of their lands, I for one, was thrilled. With broader travel opportunities somewhat limited, these beautiful destinations provide a local option to re-connect.
Early mornings are my time and I have spent numerous hours out in the woods or paddling across quiet lakes, often having the area and sunrise totally to myself. Having a parks access card has been a bonus too for getting out extra early.
Lately, my go-to destinations have been the trails of the Dundas Valley and the stunning flatwater kayaking opportunities available at Christie Lake, Valens Lake and Rockwood Conservation Area in Rockwood, Ontario. All very accessible and with an abundance of wildlife. On the trails, I have passed other hikers, always experiencing a respectful distance and a friendly hello. Social distancing on water is of course even easier to maintain and visiting at the beginning and end of the day is not only my favourite time but is also the moments when the parks are the quietest. As a bonus, it is also by far the best time to spot wildlife!
There is no question that during periods of stress and anxiety, time spent outdoors can contribute to a remarkable improvement to mindset and feelings of wellness and wellbeing. Cheaper than therapy and it includes a physical fitness component as well.
As we navigate these peculiar times, be kind and considerate to each other and take advantage of the outdoors to surround you, heal you and offer its benefits to both your body and soul.
As a spiritual person, nature for me has always been a healing place. Going back all the way to my childhood on the farm, the fields and forests were places of adventure and self-discovery. Animals were companions and friends, and the world moved at a slower, more rational pace than the bustling cities where I'd resided my adult life."
- David Mixner