By Quinn, Nystrom, MS

Spring has sprung! Sort of, anyway. After the longest winters of the longest winters with a side-order or quarantine, many people are looking forward to greenery, gardens, and hours in the sun.

I know I don’t need to go into a log dissertation as to how COVID-19 has sent all of our lives into a tailspin–we all know what we’ve been through, or are currently dealing with. The bottom line is that life is tough right now.

But it’s nothing we can’t handle.

It seemed like only yesterday when I was happily writing out my work and life goals for 2020, and it did not include terms like “global pandemic,” “shelf-stable milk,” “shelter order,” or “toilet paper hoarding.”

The times, they are a-changin’.

But what has not changed is the availability of nature and fresh air. These resources have always been within reach for many of us, but have fallen into the “taken for granted” category as we fill our calendars with things that seem important or stare at our devices for hours on end.

Hence, the resurgence of a new pre- COVID-19 term: rewilding.

Rewilding is a term used in the field of nature conservancy that refers to the practice of allowing land to return to its natural state in order to restore, repair and rebalance ecosystems previously under threat.

The offshoot of this is human rewilding, which, to me, means the re-introduction of humankind to the connectivity of “natural processes and core wilderness.”

It’s a reminder that the Great Outdoors is healing and almost always available to everyone. It’s time to give ourselves a Digital Detox and embrace the natural world around us. And I can promise you that nothing will provide you with a new appreciation for flora and fauna than being cooped up during a Minnesota winter and then be hypothetically sent to your room for weeks thanks to a pandemic.

But before you make plans to enroll in survival school or pick a mountain to crest, think simpler…closer to home. Finding a place to recalibrate in nature is easier than you think. Do some research and locate the nearest park, backyard, patch-o-grass, or stand of trees, go there, and take a minute to sit in it.

To sit with it.

Feel the earth under your feet, feel the sun on your shoulders, and listen to sweet sounds of nature. It’s just that easy…and man, does it help lift the fog of depression and worry.

Lucky for us, our country is loaded with state and national parks that have amazing trails to walk. At every park, there are options to choose places to walk that are suitable for people of all ages – from toddlers to grandparents. Many trails designated for family hikes are less strenuous, with fewer hills and a smoother path cleared of rocks, roots or other obstacles. Some are even paved in boardwalk or have stairs or bridges that aren’t available on other trails. Even if parks are not readily available, there will be plenty of places in your community to soak of nature’s healing gifts. This, I am sure of.

So as we move forward in learning about the New Normal that may be hanging around for a while, let’s also remember to stretch our legs, breathe fresh air, and make a date with Mother Nature at least once a day. The 2020 version of human rewilding is going to be all about restoring balance inside each of us by integrating with nature, rather than extracting ourselves from it.

Where will you go to rewild today?