A recent study by Stanford University shows what outdoor enthusiasts have known for years: Quality time in nature is vital for your mental health.
The findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, suggest that a 90-minute walk in a natural environment can decrease rumination (i.e., repetitive thoughts focused on negative aspects of the self). In short, time spent in nature could be more vital for mental health than previously thought.
And although Chattanooga is a growing urban hub, residents also benefit from the access to natural environments throughout the region. One of those areas is Lula Lake, protected by the Lula Lake Land Trust.
A Hike for Mental Health will take place at Lula Lake on Oct. 18 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. The hike will be guided, and participants are encouraged to help raise money for the organization by registering and encouraging others to donate.
Registration is free and not required to participate. Dogs are welcome on the hike.
The hike is organized by Emily Ellis and Cassidy Wolfe, who have a goal of raising $3,000 to help fund mental health research and land conservation. However, initially, the two simply want to promote awareness of the organization for this hike and hikes in the future.
“I think this is just such a cool thing and I want to see how many people are interested,” Ellis said. “There’s such a stigma in receiving mental services, but every single person has mental health issues. And sometimes, all you need is a hike.”
Ellis said the hike will also help plug people into different mental health services in the area. The hike is a partnership with Johnson Mental Health, a division of Volunteer Behavioral Health. The organization offers a variety of mental health/recovery programs and client services.
“Nature has helped me get a perspective on the importance of life,” Ellis said. “I think everyone would probably agree it helps reduce stress and brings us closer to other people through outdoor activities. I think my problems aren’t so big when I’m up on a mountain.”
Hike for Mental Health is a national nonprofit with the goal of increasing public awareness of mental health, appreciation of nature and responsible use of wilderness, while raising funds toward mental health research and trail preservation.
Eighty percent of funding will benefit scientific research and 20 percent will benefit the preservation of wilderness trails.