Getting Outdoors in Northwest Montana is Good for Your Health
When you smell the fresh mountain air, take a dip in the cool lake waters, and notice the abundant wildlife, you'll know there's something different about this place. These are the things that people come to Northwest Montana to take part in while recreating. However, living here provides much more.
Transplant from Phoenix
I moved here almost three years ago with my family from Phoenix, AZ. Needless to say, it was culture shock all the way around. From nearly 5 million people to about 1500. From Mexican food and almost any restaurant or store you could imagine to not so much. From one border to the other, and from blazing heat to a real winter.
But wait, no more sitting in traffic or driving 11 miles in 45 minutes. I can show my kids the stars like never before. Bye bye eternal summer, hello four seasons. And the commute to work... 42 miles one way down to 1 mile (2 minutes). Now there's so much more time for... well, anything.
Sure there is more to do in the big city, but is it good for your health? Studies show that urbanites have a higher risk of emotional disorders, (link), and that city life is bad for your mental health (link). We know that city dwellers experience more stress due to the hussle and bussle, the noise, and constant distractions. Researchers are now exploring why city folk have a 21% higher risk of anxiety disorders and a 39% higher risk of mood disorders, as well as how stress affects the brain. They are also finding that those living in concrete jungles are more vulnerable to depression, and especially post-partum depression.
Isn't that what we are all seeking, less stress and more simplicity in life? Well, you can find it here in Northwest Montana. The less stress a person encounters, the less side effects on their body and mind. Other than which grocery store to shop at (there are 2), which restaurant to frequent (there are less than 10 in the area), which hunting tags to purchase, and shoveling the snow in the winter, there isn't that much stress here.
The first thing doctors discuss with patients who have depression is exercise (well, after some prescription probably) and getting outdoors. Not only does being out in nature fight off depression, its just plain good for your health.
While working with a client who was depressed and had destructively low self esteem, we were able to determine that when she was at her best was when she was outdoors, in nature. Not in a city, not out with friends, not shopping, not even having sex. Sitting by a lake or stream, walking through the woods, staring at mountains for long periods of time, not saying a word or even being with others, that was where she was at her best. We took advantage of this discovery using it as a coping skill and structured more experiences, as well as her therapy homework, around this newly found resource.
Coping with depression can take on many different forms based on the individual. The top 5 coping skills people use and that are recommended by therapists and counselors is a good place to start. Otherwise, get outdoors! The fresh air will do you some good and just might give you a fresh perspective.
About the Author: Todd Call, MS, LMFT LCPC Todd is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in Montana (LMFT also in Hawaii and Arizona). He maintains a private practice in Eureka and Kalispell, and conducts workshops with parents who want to improve their parenting and themselves. Todd has been a therapist since 1998 and has worked extensively with teenagers and their parents in residential and outpatient settings. You can find more of his writing at the Uncommon Sense blog. Todd is married and has 7 children (along with 2 dogs, 3 geese, 4 cats and 11 chickens).
Tags: self help