In 1993 I left Montana to join the Marine Corps and spent the next 27 years living all over America and overseas. Every day I was gone, I missed Montana’s landscapes.
I’m ever grateful to be back home in Montana for good and to be able to get into the wild whenever I feel the need. I always return feeling refreshed, centered, and grateful. I’ve always known, from personal experience, that this is what I receive from time in nature. I knew, but I didn’t know why. Since joining the Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation team, I’ve dug into the research to learn the “why” behind these benefits I receive from time spent in nature.
Spending time in nature has been shown to have a range of positive physiological benefits:
-Reduced stress due to dampening cortisol levels.
-Improved mood and outlook due to increases in serotonin.
-Improved immune function due to the elevation of “killer cells,” which boost our immune system.
-Improved sleep due to natural light exposure and its effect on our sleep cycle.
-Improved curiosity and problem-solving ability due to increases in dopamine levels.
-Improved attentiveness and mindfulness. Studies have shown that true immersion in nature — multiple days spent in the wild — increases Alpha & Theta brainwave activity. These are the brainwaves most closely associated with long-time meditators and people experiencing a state of flow.
This is a key component of WQW’s programming. WQW uses the power of nature to create conditions within our Veteran participants that enables them to successfully grapple with the challenges and opportunities they face in returning home.
Everyone struggles with transitions in life. Research shows us how nature enables us all to struggle well.
Colonel, USMC (Ret.)
CEO, Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation