We all know how important it is to get away every so often and enjoy nature, but sometimes it’s hard to put down that cell phone and just pause for a moment. We’re all busy trying to get through everything we need to in our daily lives, but it’s nice to take a break every so often. Since I’ve started making nature a regular part of my life, I’ve realized so many things related to the wild. I’ve become very passionate about exploring and understanding certain habitats. I’ve tried to learn new species of birds and plants that are native to my area. And I’ve tried to incorporate being around wildlife in a natural setting as much as I can. My appreciation for nature and wild animals has increased dramatically. I’ve learned so much about being in nature and even about myself. Below are a few of the things that have really stuck with me related to nature.

You Don’t Need Expensive Gear to Enjoy Nature

Advertisements for people hiking and enjoying the outdoors by big name companies show the need for expensive jackets, shoes, socks- you name it. But not all of those are necessary to just enjoy the outdoors. All you need is a sturdy pair of shoes and some comfortable clothes. Enjoying nature doesn’t mean you need to look stylish and it doesn’t mean you need the high-tech gear. You don’t need to be wearing all North Face or Merrell. You don’t have to go on a shopping spree at REI to be able to do some hiking. All that’s necessary is an open mind and a little bit of motivation (but some sturdy shoes and comfortable clothes wouldn’t hurt).

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Helping Nature is a Great Way to Get Out and Explore

Conservation societies are always looking for volunteers to help with invasive species removal. Garlic mustard is a raider into various areas of the U.S. in the spring and earlier summer, and phragmites is also an invader in wetland areas. Removing invasive plants helps ecosystems thrive by allowing biodiversity and providing adequate food sources for birds and other animals in the area. As well, it’s also a way to get out and be in wild areas. Look at local nature associations or conservation groups for volunteer days and opportunities.

Short Nature Walks Should Never be Underestimated

Every so often, I’ll decide to go off for a morning and do a short walk in a wild area. I cannot tell you how much these walks help me. Even though it’s not a big hike or weekend camping trip that I’ve planned, it helps me connect with nature. I’ve also found that these help me learn more about the native species in the area. Just by taking an hour or two to walk around and look at nature is very educational as the time adds up – before I know it, I’m recognizing more and more new species.

You Can Savor Nature Even in the Most Urban Areas

Being in nature has helped me realize that even in the most urban areas, you can find and appreciate the natural world separate of humans. For example, this past weekend I was in Chicago and I was waiting for a train. I was in the most urban of areas, and yet I noticed a few pigeons. Now, many may question whether these pigeons are really apart of nature as they have become intertwined in our urban landscape, but seeing and watching the pigeons fly around and walk around brought a similar feeling that I go through when I’m in nature. Even for that one minute of watching them, I felt separated from the hectic urban atmosphere around me and it calmed me down.

Animals Live Their Own Lives

The thing that always amazes me about animals in areas even a stone’s throw away from an urban environment is that they are completely separate from people. They live in their own small little ecosystem, possibly even unaware that humans are out there living hustling and bustling lives. They do things that they want to do and their lives are their own. To some degree, that makes my problems and worries seem so much less important when I am away from the human world we live in. Being in nature is how I get away from my problems. That’s not to say that I won’t ever face them, but it’s nice every so often to take a break from them and just breathe. It’s a form of meditation and relaxation that I recommend to any and every one.

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While experiencing nature, I’ve learned so many things that I can’t even list here. I encourage everyone to go out and explore on their own and learn their own lessons. Every exploration is different and exploring with an open mind will allow you to fully absorb the entire experience.

Image source: Kings of Hearts/Wikimedia

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