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How the Outdoors Can Help You Love Life

By Elliot Caleira

Nature tends to spark something within us that's hard to describe. Anyone who spends much time camping, hiking or trail running can attest to that fact. But the ineffable nature of the experience tends to make it a hard sell to the rest of us. But it turns out the nature lovers have it right. The outdoors can spark a love of life in any number of ways. But there's a few distinct ways we relate to the natural world which deserve extra attention.

How the outdoors can fight depression

Depression is a difficult subject to talk about. We tend to use the word depression to describe everything from sadness to major depressive disorders. It's hard to imagine any one thing which could help such a massive collection of symptoms and disorders. But it turns out that spending time in nature can essentially rewire our brains for the better.

Meditation on the nature of life

To love being alive you should also appreciate the nature of life itself. And this is one of the most amazing gifts which nature has to give. When you go out into nature you should stay aware of everything you see. When people first begin to spend time in nature they're usually fairly blind to the less obvious aspects.

For example, people often describe nature as quiet or calm. This is true in comparison to a loud city street. But you'll soon start to notice a melody of noises when you enter a forest. There's the music of brooks and streams. The frogs by collections of lillypads will add their own voices to the chorus. The birds in the trees each have something to add. A songbird and a woodpecker can almost be thought to add vocals and drums to the forest's music.

But most of all you'll find a cycle of life and death. There's motion and rest everywhere you look. You'll see trees springing up from the ground. And you'll see the rotting remains of their predecessors. The same goes for animal and insect life as well. This might seem disturbing at first to a city dweller. But you'll soon find yourself appreciating life all the more. We don't appreciate life by trying to hide from it. Instead, our appreciation of life comes from really understanding it. This understanding of life and life cycles is found by seeing it firsthand in natural surroundings.

Trail running

Not every park, forest or nature preserve has trails suitable for running. But if you're lucky enough to live by one than you might want to take on trail running. Trail running is similar to a standard jog. The main difference is that you head out into nature for your run. Instead of car fumes you can breathe in fresh air. And you'll get the same psychological benefits as you would from simply relaxing in nature.

Bringing nature into your own backyard

Of course, one can't simply head out into a forest every evening. But there are ways to cultivate a love of life with the nature you cultivate in your own backyard. For example, a home swimming pool brings the gentle sounds of the water into your life. And swimming itself has been shown by various studies to fight depression.

Of course, this is one of the more costly options. But it can be surprisingly affordable if one uses swimming pool financing to evenly distribute some of the costs. One can also evenly distribute time with one's pool and more woodland based environments. Many people find that taking a day to swim at home and the next with a good forested trail run can provide an ideal workout.

Alternating and combining different activities

Finally, it's important to remember that one of the best things about life is choice. We don't have to pick a single activity from this list. We can match any or all of these into a solid workout plan. In fact, doing so can make one feel even better than concentrating on a single activity. It offers a broader workout for the body and more experiences for the mind. And appreciating everything the world has to offer is the best path to really appreciating life.

Elliot CaleiraElliot Caleira is a freelance writer in the self-mastery and health and wellness spaces. When he's not writing you'll find him cooking or teaching Portuguese classes. More articles by Elliot.

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