Blog Post

Finding solace outside in uncertain times

Thursday, January 7, 2021 by Wade Johnston

In the 1850s, Henry David Thoreau deliberately lived in the woods to find quiet and intellectual direction. After the trials of 2020, perhaps we could all learn a lesson from Thoreau’s intentional time with nature.

Getting outside isn’t just about enlightenment or fitness. Increasingly, it’s a low-tech outlet for addressing our collective mental health crisis. In 2020, a study conducted by the American Psychological Association found that 78% of Americans identified the global pandemic as a significant source of stress in their lives. The same study found that 60% of Americans were “overwhelmed” by the issues facing our country.

With mental health providers overwhelmed by increased demand due to civil unrest, a breakdown in civil society, and the pandemic, what is the average person supposed to do to take care of themselves in this uncertain time?

It’s small, and it’s not going to solve our social ills, but we think it’s time for us all to spend a bit more time outside.

From improved concentration and Vitamin D-levels to better outcomes for mood disorders, spending time outside can be a game-changer. While the 24-hour news cycle may make us feel like we’re chained to our electronic devices, spending just 20 minutes outside can be a significant shift in our levels of happiness.

You don’t have to be Henry David Thoreau and build your own cabin in the woods to benefit from a bit of time outside. Check out Tri-State Trails’ trail finder tool to find a trail near you where you can get away from the stressors of pandemic life in 2021, and can instead find something beautiful and serene.

Even if it’s just for 20 minutes, we hope you can find a bit of solace outside in the middle of uncertain times.

If you or someone you love are experiencing a crisis, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center or text MHA to 741741.

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