While many of us know intuitively and through our own experiences, recent research supports the notion that time spent in nature is connected with a positive mood, a sense of meaningfulness, and vitality. Spending time in nature also helps reduce anger, fear, and stress while increasing moments of pleasant feelings, like joy and peace.
Natural settings allow us to turn down the “fight or flight” instinct and organically restore positive states of being.
My time spent as an Adventure Therapist allowed me to experience some of the local trails in the South Jersey area. I found that the beauty of hiking in New Jersey is that the trails offer a variety of opportunities for all levels of physical fitness to enjoy. Time spent in nature has the incredible ability to promote mindfulness and increase moments of gratitude. The essential “peace and quiet” of being outdoors helps clear the mind, create a space for self care, along with the added health and mood-boosting benefits of physical exercise.
Being in nature can make you feel happier and stronger.
Now just for a moment, imagine hiking on a trail through the woods, looking up to see the sun streaming down through the trees. Watch how the light illuminates the trees. Attune your ears to the sounds of birds chirping, and leaves rustling in the breeze. Take a moment to feel the soft touch of the wind brushing across your face. There is a sense of quiet that is able to drown out the hustle and bustle of the day to day life. Take a deep breath. Notice how each step taken on the trail continues to ground the mind, body, and soul. How are you feeling? Are you feeling more present? Pick a trail and see where it will take you….
Here is a list of recommended trails:
- Wharton State Park: has a variety of trails from all levels of activity including Basto Village located in Hammonton, NJ . https://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/wharton.html
- Rancocas State Park:has beautiful trails and a nature center that provides education to the whole family located in Mount Holly, NJ. https://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/rancocas.html
- Historic Smithville Park and Smith’s Woods: Beginner level hikes to novice, nature preserves, and a great playground. It is very family friendly, and located in Easthampton, NJ. http://www.co.burlington.nj.us/948/Historic-Smithville-Park
- The Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge: A wildlife refuge that offers trails for hiking, and chances to go into the nature center to visit the animals that are being rehabbed. Another family friendly nature opportunity located in Medford, NJ. http://www.cedarrun.org/content/Visit_us/hours_and_prici.asp
Link to the research study: https://news.ok.ubc.ca/2017/11/02/science-confirms-you-should-stop-and-smell-the-roses/
About the Author: Amanda is a Licensed Social Worker in the State of New Jersey and earned her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania. She has also completed post-graduate trainings in Equine Assisted Therapies and offers these services near our Mindful Soul Medford Office, where Amanda practices counseling. Amanda spent her early career working with children, adults, families, and groups in both inpatient and outpatient behavioral health programs providing Adventure, Equine, and Trauma focused therapies for anxiety, depression, grief, PTSD, and trauma. She also enjoys working with couples. Learn More About Amanda