What is it that’s so calming about nature?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and at the Student Conservation Association, we have seen firsthand the benefits of nature on our young members through hands-on service to the land. Ninety percent of program participants feel more confident and better able to work with different people after their SCA service.

“This program helped me learn more about myself, who I am as a person and shown me that I can push myself to do hard work and that I can accomplish goals if I set my mind to it,” said Nima, a crew member who helped restore trails at Yost Park in Washington during her time with the SCA last year.

Three SCA crew members walking along trail.

SCA crew members walking along a trail

Living in a fast-paced, digitally-driven world can become overwhelming. Even the smallest dose of outdoor exposure can significantly reduce anxiety levels. Nature offers the opportunity for reflection and the ability to slow down.

Connecting with the outdoors reminds people to appreciate the simple things. “While I gained incredible career skills, I feel like the most important lessons were outside of work,” said Elona, an SCA member who worked at the Alaska Peninsula and Becharof National Wildlife Refuges. “I experienced how joyful a simple life can be and that it’s best shared with others.”

SCA crew members gathered at sunset

SCA crew members gathered at sunset.

American Naturalist and Nature Essayist John Burroughs wrote, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” Whether exploring a new trail, paddling down a river, or watching the sunset, the sights and sounds of nature produce tremendous benefits for the mind and body.

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