Survival requires nature

Put down the phones and turn off Netflix; it is vital to our health to bask in the natural beauties of Earth.

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Jessie and I standing by a creek on the Appalachian trail on our way to see the Amicalola Falls.

Makayla Bech, Staff Writer

With the first grading period of my senior year coming to a completion, my best friend and I decided to drive to Georgia for the long weekend. We explored the gold mine in Dahlonega, walked around the quaint town, and hiked in the Appalachian Mountains. Although we were only away for three days, it felt like an entire week had passed. The amount of joy that I felt this past weekend allowed me to discover what I need in life in order to discover my own happiness, and that is to be exposed to nature.

Various different psychological studies have been reported that prove that the exposure to the outside world and the wondrous beauties that lie within our Earth heal more than medicine and energizes more than coffee. In an experiment conducted by the psychologist Richard Ryan, students were to record their levels of happiness and energy in a daily diary, while being immersed in nature more than normal. The results overwhelmingly expressed that both happiness and energy increase parallel to the amount of nature that an individual experiences. I am personally able to prove that these findings are factual. I have always been aware that I am a lover of nature; however, I never realized how healing the essence of being outdoors is for me.

The past academic quarter has been nothing less than extraordinarily stressful. I have had an overwhelming amount of pressure onto myself in regards to school work and college applications. I was blinded by the weight of my struggles and was unable to scope out my body’s overreaching desire for a day or two in nature. As I was hiking through the woods staring at the greenery and stumbling over rocks, my body was so overflowed with elation that I was completely oblivious to the amount of exercise that I was accomplishing. We hiked on the Appalachian Trail and walked up 60 flights of stairs in order to see a grand overview of the magnificent sights.  I stood in front of the Amicalola Falls and felt as moisture crept into my eyes while the mist of the falls flew onto my face. I observed as everyone was hurrying to the front of the lookout to capture the moment on their phones, but I was simply taken aback and astonished by the beauty that was occurring in my presence. I won’t deny that that I did stop to have a few photos of my own; however, for the most part I was able to relish in the beauty and breathe in the crisp air that was filling my lungs. It was almost as if everything that I have been so distressed about diminished in purpose and I realized how small my troubles truly were.

On the drive back to the hotel after seeing one of the most alluring sights of my entire life, I couldn’t help but ponder on the thought that this experience was free. I have lost hundreds of dollars in the past few years on tickets to Disney and Halloween Horror Nights, and yes although they were amusing, I was absent of the euphoric feeling that passed through my body after time well spent in nature. Adrenaline can only do so much for a small amount of time; however, the experiences of nature fulfil the soul. I cannot stress enough the importance of stepping outside and basking in the parts of our world that are completely looked over. In spite of how cliché effect of this statement, it is truly the little things in life that us humans need in order to seek out true happiness.