#NatureHeals is a hashtag my friend Tory started using frequently on her Instagram page. (She even recently changed her name to Nature Ordinary Girl!). When I saw this hashtag it immediately resonated with me. I have mentioned in passing how I often feel a need to escape New York City every few weeks. Although Central Park and Carl Schurz Park are great breaks between the miles of skyscrapers, sometimes I just want to be surrounded by nature that doesn’t feel planned or designed. Whenever I feel claustrophobic in this city I run to the East River and sit on a bench just relishing in the feeling of something bigger than me (or this city!).
I think what is most surprising about this is that I am NOT an outdoorsy girl. Yes, I love sunshine, flowers, and trees, but I am not exactly the weeks of camping without a shower kind of girl. When I went to sleepaway camp as a kid we stayed in cabins that had electricity and running water, we didn’t exactly rough it. The only time we truly “camped” was one night during the two week session, when we went out into the woods and made our dinners on a campfire. It was always the highlight of the summer for me, but not something that I have embraced throughout my daily life. I love nature, but I think deep down I am more of a suburbs or city girl than a nature girl.
That being said, since moving to New York I think I have started to truly appreciate nature. I don’t think I realized how “fake” nature would feel to me here. Don’t get me wrong, there are trees and flowers, but they are only outside nice buildings around the Upper East Side, or small “parks” (aka tiny islands between major roads) throughout the city. Going to Bucknell, I was surrounded by nature every day. It is a truly beautiful campus and I don’t think I fully appreciated it while I was a student. Now, I wish I could still be constantly surrounded by nature.
Luckily, my latest move to a studio apartment, has allowed me to reconnect to a small bit of nature. Previously, I basically lived in a basement apartment. I could never tell what time of day it was when I woke up or went to bed. There was only a small window of time in the afternoon when the sun would reach my tiny windows. I don’t think I realized how negatively this impacted me until I moved out. Now, in my new space I can look out my windows and see trees and sunlight. I wake up with the sun and go to sleep when its dark out, so simple but it has made such a positive impact in my life. I cannot even put it into words. I just feel more connected to nature and less like I am trapped in a dark space. Although I am not living in a place surrounded by nature like I was at school, or even in the suburbs, I really value the trees and sunlight my apartment gets.
Recently I read an article about how nature changes the brain. I definitely fall into the category of city dweller. I think its fascinating that nature has such a significant impact on humans (especially for those of us living in cities) but they cannot exactly determine why. I think it is a combination of the sunlight, trees, and the fact that there is something out there larger than our problems. I know that I can get up caught in my own problems and forget about the bigger picture. Walking in nature and escaping New York City every now and again somehow is like a reset button. I think there is truly a healing power to nature, one that cannot be quantified or explained, just experienced.