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Five Reasons to Retreat to Nature

Five Reasons to Retreat to Nature

Monday, 03 October 2022 14:16

It is fall in North Carolina, which means the leaves are changing colors and falling to the ground, the weather is cooler, and the holiday season is right around the corner. Western North Carolina is one of the most beautiful places to be in the fall, as the colors are vibrant, and there are plenty of activities that are conducive to spending time outdoors and witnessing the beauty of the season firsthand. 

While the season is picturesque, it is also one of the busiest times of the year. People are organizing family holiday gatherings, making travel plans, and beginning to shop for Christmas gifts. In the midst of these preparations, it is difficult to carve out time to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, but this practice is a worthwhile investment in your personal health.

There are many benefits to spending time in nature. Research shows those who spend more time in nature see improvements in mental, emotional, and physical health. 

Why Should You Spend Time Retreating in Nature?

Many studies have been conducted which prove spending time in nature is not only advantageous but necessary for humans to thrive. As Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, says, “{The studies} point in one direction: Nature is not only nice to have, but it’s a have-to-have for physical health and cognitive functioning.” Here are just a few of the findings from years of research.

1. Time in nature reduces stress.

A 2019 study from Frontiers in Psychology reveals spending as little as twenty minutes in nature can have an impact on reducing cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Whatever the source of your stress, taking a nature break, from an outdoor walk to a bike ride, can help significantly as you cope.

2. Time in nature can lead to improvements in your physical health.

While regular physical activity alone yields physical health improvements, there is an added value when physical activity takes place outdoors. 

The American Public Health Association's policy statement on Improving Health and Wellness through Access to Nature states: "Access to nature has been related to lower levels of mortality and illness, higher levels of outdoor physical activity, restoration from stress, a greater sense of well-being, and greater social capital."

3. Time in nature decreases feelings of anxiety and depression.

In addition to better physical health, mental health also improves as a result of exposure to nature. We are constantly inundated with technology, and our reliance on it has led to increased mental health challenges. As a result of the global pandemic, the average time spent using screens has grown, contributing to the current mental health crisis.

4. Time in nature improves our memory and cognitive functions.

Whereas screen time inhibits our cognitive abilities and focus, nature has the opposite effect. Attention Restoration Theory proposes that interacting with natural environments can lead to increased direct attention and the restoration of directed attention after experiencing fatigue. This restorative potential is believed to be a result of the inherently fascinating stimuli witnessed in nature, which draw upon our involuntary attention and cause the replenishment of directed-attention mechanisms.

5. Time in nature allows us to connect with God’s creation and grow closer to God.

In Psalm 19:1, we learn God created the earth for His glory, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day, they pour forth speech; night after night, they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.”

God’s handiwork points us to him and reminds us of his love for us and care for us. In both Luke 12 and Matthew 6, Jesus tells us not to worry, pointing us to God’s care for his creation, especially for humans, his crowning jewel.

What Are Some Activities to Try in Nature?

Any outdoor activity is better than none, but here are a few ideas for how you can retreat to nature, whether you have a few minutes to spare or a few days.

  • Nature walk- Since the health benefits of nature can be felt in as little as 20 minutes, a leisurely walk during your lunch break is perfect and doable for most people.
  • Hike- There are plenty of hiking options in western North Carolina, ranging in intensity from easy to difficult.
  • Camping- Depending on what your favorite activities are, find a campsite that allows you to star gaze, one that has easy access to hiking trails, or one that is near a body of water perfect for fishing.
  • Bird watching- This activity is perfect for people of all ages and physical abilities because you can do it from a park bench or a picnic blanket, and it requires little pre-planning other than finding a cozy spot.

What Does Camp Tekoa Have to Offer?

Located in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, Camp Tekoa offers ample opportunities to explore and enjoy nature. Camp Tekoa boasts an abundance of on-site trails for various skill levels, an outdoor chapel, and an idyllic lake. At Camp Tekoa, we have lodges for large, small groups or families, and we even have campsites available for reservation throughout our property.

Book Tekoa Retreats

For more information about Camp Tekoa, its facilities, and its program offerings, or to book your next retreat, contact us or visit our website.