Photography by Camille Lizama | On location at Minnesota Horse & Hunt Club | Hair and makeup by Julie Phaxay

The start of the New Year always brings with it a reset challenge, often encouraging growth in the areas of physical fitness and mental health. We are inundated with ads promoting diets, workouts, gym memberships and more. But have you ever given thought to the health benefits of just stepping outside your door and into nature?

Mother Nature provides a free membership that will change the expression of stress in your body, lower your blood pressure, reduce inflammation, eliminate fatigue, ease anxiety and depression — the list goes on and on. Scientific studies have proven this to be true. And it doesn’t matter if it’s hiking, snowshoeing, feeding the birds, or simply going for a walk in the woods; it all makes a positive impact. Any time spent in the natural world allows our bodies to reset and reconnect with the earth.

We are here to receive the earth’s wisdom, to connect with her heartbeat and to pass along her knowledge. When we spend time in the great outdoors, we become storytellers and connect to others through our experience. Storytelling is in our DNA; our ancestors would share their experiences in nature with one another by writing their stories on a rock wall. Today, we share our experiences witnessing Mother Nature’s miracles with photos and posts on social-media walls. We connect and share experiences around a dinner table or a campfire. Connection with one another is a basic human need, but in today’s high-tech world, it’s harder to achieve than ever before.

So it’s no wonder that time spent hugging a tree is just as beneficial as time spent snuggling a puppy; both make your soul smile. Start off the New Year with a pledge to adventure outdoors, to connect with the earth and to connect with one another. It’s a simple formula to achieve a happy, healthy state of well-being. I like to call it “re-wilding” yourself to restore your soul. 

Laura Schara is a lifelong outdoor enthusiast and cohost of the television series Minnesota Bound. You can find her blog at wildlyliving.com.

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.