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How I Connect with Nature

By Ashley Rezachek, Communications Outreach Specialist Individual Placement / AmeriCorps Member placed at MN DNR Scientific and Natural Areas Program.

 

“One thing I’ve learned in the woods is that there is no such thing as random. Everything is steeped in meaning, colored by relationships, one thing with another.”

― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

 

My relationship with nature and the outdoors has evolved over the years. The ways in which I connect with nature have expanded as well. I’m lucky enough to have access to a lot of natural areas, and for that, I am very grateful. As time passes and I gain a greater understanding of the environment, I’m reminded that nature is fragile, but also adaptable.

Spending time in nature allows me to slow down, helps ground me, and reminds me of the most important things in life. There are several ways I connect with the outdoors. Nature can be a refuge during stressful times. It’s known to improve both mental and physical health and has been shown to improve one’s mood, reduce stress, increase relaxation, improve confidence, and increase physical activity among other things.

A trip to Bend Bend Bluffs SNA helped relieve some winter blues.

According to researchers 120 minutes of outdoor time per week is the ideal amount of time needed to gain health benefits. People who spent two hours outdoors reported feeling healthier than those who didn’t get out at all. In my personal experience, I can confirm that being out in nature usually boosts my mood and increases my ability to relax. When I’m stressed my favorite place to head to is the regional park about 10 minutes from my home to go for a hike. This also allows me to do another favorite nature activity — photography!

Lately, I’ve been trying to connect more with nature via photography. Being more intentional with my photography has forced me to slow down and get close to nature. As a result, I am more aware of the small things, for example, I notice the various textures of mosses, the different types of mushroom gills, the small insects traveling across plant leaves, and many other small details in nature. Nature provides me with creative inspiration. The great outdoors inspires not just my photography, but also my writing and other creative endeavors.

A summer sunset over Lost Valley Prairie SNA. Photography is one way I connect with nature.

One other way I connect with nature is by learning about the environment. I just completed my Minnesota Master Naturalist course. I’ve learned more about the Earth and now feel an even greater responsibility to take care of it for future generations. There are many more ways to connect to nature, but these are just a few of the main ways I build my relationship with the natural world.