Olivia Maaia, '25
We all come from nature. We live in nature, we thrive in nature, we try to help fix nature we have destroyed. Despite our many connections, we tend to forget how nature is beneficial to us. The earth grounds us to our very being but is taken for granted because of the many innovations produced by our ancestors. Over the years, mental health has become a priority, especially during the pandemic, and we have come to realize that taking care of ourselves and others is crucial. So much has been learned over the past couple years that has helped raise awareness about mental illness, which has helped us to gain a greater understanding of our bodies, and what they need to be healthy.
One discovery is that nature can benefit mental health. An article written by the Mental Health Awareness Foundation states that people who spend more time outside are less likely to be affected by mental illness than people who don’t, and this often leads to happier lives. In even more detail, it is not only being in nature but the quality of the relationship you have with nature that is important for a positive impact on our health. For students especially, this means we should take advantage of the green space we have access to and the time we spend in it.
On the close we are very fortunate to have so many preserved outdoor spaces where we can go to enjoy the nice weather or just get a breath of fresh air. We are sometimes even forced to go outside because classes can be held in many different buildings, but the burden is really a benefit. I have many times complained that none of my classes are in the same space, causing me to have to cross the street a million times, but the walk gives my body time to rejuvenate and breathe. Even while doing homework, I find that sitting outside makes it more enjoyable because it is a change in environment. I almost lose track of time sitting, feeling the breeze, soaking in the sun, and listening to the many noises; birds chirping, the bustling of people, leaves chiming together, and a faint wisp of cars driving through Wisconsin Ave.
A tradition in fourth grade is to take a walk to the Bishops Garden and find a spot that speaks to us, which becomes our token spot. The one I chose was the gazebo. Simple but also interesting because there are many embellishments that you won’t notice unless you take the time to look. Stonework with wood accents, a wind vane sitting on top, curved archways, and different arrays of gorgeous flowers. Since then, I have discovered many new places around the close, oak court, the great lawn, the courtyard outside Woodley and so many more. As I have settled into the school year, I have found many more opportunities to take advantage of outdoor time, and even just five minutes can help relieve some stress from my head. The next time you walk outside, try to take a minute, and acknowledge where you are right now, tell yourself a positive affirmation, and feel grateful for the world around you. Nature is your greatest gift, so being appreciative of all the green space on our campus is crucial to maintaining a healthy mindset.