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How has the outdoors positively impacted your mental health?

While many topics here in the community focus on gear, places, and learning, there are also a lot of feelings shared within your questions and stories. In the Co-op Journal series The Nature Fix by Florence Williams, topics such as the awe of the night sky and how we're hard-wired for adventure share some insight on how the outdoors can deeply impact our lives.

Recently, we've seen conversations here in the community on why we get outdoors, gear we hold dear, and even singing on bike rides, which have shared a glimpse of how these activities make us feel. Knowing that, we'd love to hear more:

How has the outdoors positively impacted your mental health?

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At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
13 Replies

I'm a notoriously poor sleeper, which in turn affects just about everything else (mental health, energy, overall well-being).  A few days spent sleeping in the outdoors without electronics essentially gives my body a reset, which stays with me in my return to normal life.  I find that weeks after my return from the wilderness I'll have better sleep and my productivity increases, as well as a sense of peace and tranquility.  I call it the "Great Reset." 

Keep Calm and Paddle On


I managed to sneak in a mid-week 'mini-reset' this week. Took a bike ride along the Carbon River and made sure to stop and breath and just be present in the quiet of the woods. It was amazing for my head-space!

I never regret taking the time to slow down and be present when outside.I never regret taking the time to slow down and be present when outside.

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

I can see clearly now, the rain has gone.

I can see all obstacles in my way.

Gone are the dark clouds that had me down.

It's going to be a bright, bright sunshiny day.

You just gave me an ear-worm SolaceEasy. 

Guess I know what I'll be belting out on my bike today. Look out cows!

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

If I could give you more than one like I would @SolaceEasy.  I have suffered from severe depression and anxiety attacks for too many years to count.  My only escape had been the National Parks and big water.  Learning to roll my kayak and the hours of practice that took was my solace one summer.  In the great outdoors, the weight lifts, the black cloud drifts away, the sun warms my insides and spirit.  Its almost like being reborn.  I have now found respite in ketamine but being outside is still the best place to be.

It's not what I can't do, it's what I can do.

Without too much detail, I can deeply relate.

I used to have a stressful job as a bank manager. I would get migraines that would keep me in bed all day. I could not sleep at night. I found hiking and was able to pass out at night and sleep well. My migraines went away. I no longer stress about the little things. I focus on the breeze of the air through the pine trees, the sound of the stream going down the mountain, and the sounds the lake makes when thawing from the winter behind. I look for deer, listen to birds, and enjoy judging being, while watching a sunrise or sunset. 

Three years ago I lost my 21 year old son in an accident. I quit my job.  I hike and backpack a lot to bring me peace and some happiness. It’s the only thing that helps me get through the bad days. 

I can relate about the headaches - even the migraines. I've often found that fresh air is the most effective remedy. Going for a run is even better.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Depending on your life history,REI via NoLS as well as Wilderness Medical Associates amongst others, teaches that altitude pressure is considerable in medicine.  Depending on your life history, Barometric pressure may have variance to your migraine issue.  A doctor that has specialized study in that field would have to advise (ie. Their research to prove and disprove medical theory/hypothesis).  That actually is not in scope of the practice of said organizations.  But, you could try changing elevation or otherwise your physiological location.  A barometer, or An altimeter that serious/extreme professional mountain expedition climbers used to use/use is important for that sort of observation, also.  One technique for extreme elevation is to descend in elevation 500 feet.  Personally, I have undiagnosed  repercussive injury trauma, and was raised within 750 ft above sea level most of my life.  have successfully encountered that ANY barometric change, even 50-150 ft elevation increase, will stop the associated pain (suspect internal micro hem or age as a plausible wors case) . theoretically, if applied, even a ride in a high rise would change atmospheric pressure effect until the day's temperature also helps to change it. So, lights, present atmospheric pressure, muscular response to both daily unnatural wear and life long injury, indoor air quality, hydration, recent nutrients(excessive of or lack of), and other aspect relative to the STOPEATS [Sugars, Toxins, Oxygen {remember that oxygenation of the blood is primarily by perfusion of water}, Pressure, Electricity, Altitude, Temperature, Salts [Sleep, Hormonal variance{both controllable and uncontrollable}] And SAMPLE [Signs/symptoms, Allergies, Medicine, Past pert. history, Last ins&output, Events] of the Patient Assessment... ...So, the view of the city could also be a "nature inspiration" of other/urban inescapable environmental sorts.  But, without stating, if you can prove the locus /impetus of your physiological pain to yourself, there are probably vitamins and minerals that can also aide in counteracting effect of the impetus.  I am sorry I do not have ability to aid more in relief to your personal matter, but I do hope the shared information would help you life in relieving more physiological distressors when emotional contributors arise.