Grass Between Our Toes

sunlit forestHenry David Thoreau wrote, “I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.”

fern on leftI concur. Nature is vital to my mood and sense of well-being. When I was a child walking in the woods, I was convinced they were filled with magic. Pushing aside ferns at the edges of narrow winding paths with sunlight dappling the trees and my face, I escaped to a place of timelessness. The canopy of leaves far above kept the magic in and the secrets I shared with the trees safe.

photo-2As an adult, Harbor Beach in East Dennis was my haven. Barefoot walks on the wet sand, gentle waves washing over my feet, as the sun sank ever so slowly and silently, brought perspective. As the colors in the endless sky evolved from scarlet to pink, and darkened from lavender to amethyst, I found my petty problems became only a speck in the eternal and my spirit was filled with solace and peace.

Yet, for me, nature doesn’t have to include the sounds of wave and seagulls, or the misty secrets of trees. Just being outside in my backyard, grass between my toes is enough. I don’t think Thoreau created any gardens, but walking, gardening, blue skies, misty rain, and yes, trees, change my perception, calm my anxieties, and well….make me happy.

spring meadow with treeAnd I am not alone!  You know me, there is real science behind our need to be outside in nature. When I had a clinical practice, some of my clients wanted natural options to improve their mental health. Getting outside made a difference to many.

In fact, recently the National Wildlife Federation and the National Parks Service sponsored research that demonstrated kids who got outside for a recess period do better in class, behave better, and score higher grades….but being a boomer who got recess this didn’t surprise me!

Being outside can offer relief for everything from anxiety, stress, and depression to just a general case of the “blahs.” So, if you still need a few more reasons to take an extra-long walk today, work in your garden, or sit on the porch after dinner, offers these:

Lying in the meadowNature can ease depression
According to a study from the University of Michigan, group nature walks are linked to enhanced mental health and positivity, as well as significantly lower levels of depression and feelings of stress. Had a particularly hard day? Grab a friend or your significant other for a post-work mood booster.


kids at the beachBeing outside may improve your outlook
If you’re dreading the thought of spending another workout chained to the treadmill, move outdoors for a quick burst of happiness. A study from Glasgow University showed people who walked, biked, or ran in nature had a lower risk of poor mental health than people who worked out indoors.

pine sprigTime spent outdoors can improve your focus
Can’t decide where to go on your next weekend getaway? You might want to consider a trip to the countryside. According to a study published in Psychological Science, interacting with nature gives your brain a break from everyday overstimulation, which can have a restorative effect on your attention levels.

man energizedBest of all, nature can strengthen your immunity
Fun fact: The latest get-healthy pill isn’t found it in your medicine cabinet—it’s in your backyard. Researchers at Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School found that women who spent six hours in the woods over the course of two days had an increase in virus and tumor-fighting white blood cells, and the boost lasted at least seven days afterwards.

meadow with stumpSo, feeling lethargic…or a bit down? Struggling with stress or anxiety? Need an energy boost or an attitude adjustment? It’s time to picnic in a park, take a trip to the shore or to the mountains, wander in the woods, or at least kick off those shoes and walk in your yard. Turns out we all need recess….and a bit of grass between our toes.

About joanneeddy

Writer living in North Carolina. Originally from upstate New York. I love my family, my community, and my friends, and embrace 'living deliberately' in the world, trying to make a difference. I have written an as yet unpublished book, The Call, an epic fantasy with historical fiction and folklore elements. My blog is for other writers, for those who love a good read, and for all who, like me, are looking to find and live their call.
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18 Responses to Grass Between Our Toes

  1. Wonderful, Joanne. Nature is amazingly restorative. Thoreau had the right idea in my mind. For thousands of years, it was our only home, and I think in our DNA it still is. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      I hadn’t thought of it being in our DNA, but I think you’re probably right. I know at least for me, I really experience getting outside as a deep need. If I’m sick or the weather is bad for too long when I do get out, and feel the sun on my face and the breeze blowing past, it’s a relief…and that need being imprinted on my DNA makes complete sense!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very cool post, getting outdoors really helps to lift my mood!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bernadette says:

    A very good reminder about how to naturally lift your spirits and to increase your good health. I know when I can’t get my daily walk, I always have this feeling of dis – ease.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      Good way to describe it, Bernadette! I also feel a sort of lack of ease, a vague sense of dis – order, if I can’t get outside. For me, after an illness or several days of stormy weather getting back into my garden, or being able to take a walk down to the water brings a kind of relief, like everything is once again all right with the world.


  4. I love sitting outside, especially on our front doorstep. Passers by look at me as though I’m mad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      We live on one of the main streets of our little historic town, so lots of people walk past our house. Our daughter is especially fond of sitting on one of the benches on the front porch and people watch…which I join her in. I love the green and nature of my back porch with its view of my garden, but human nature also fascinates me!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. thejuicenut says:

    Our climate precludes any sitting outside for most of the year and I can feel myself sinking lower in the winter months, but as soon as the temperature increases I’m out there with the birds, bees and butterflies talking to the local cats who stroll around our back garden and I feel 10 years younger.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      That certainly was the way it was for us when we lived in Syracuse in upstate New York…long, cold winter, (average of 110 inches of snow a winter) so no gentle sitting for a lot of the year. Though when you live there you get somewhat used to the winters, and still go outside. But I used to crave sunlight intensely! Where do you live?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Jo, Just reading this post made me feel better. I did get out today and spread some alpaca poo on my gardens – great fertilizer! Tomorrow, I think we’ll take a walk in the woods. I need something to post about and you’ve inspired me. Take care…Clare

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: The present for every sick person? Give time! | From guestwriters

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