In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “an early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”
Thoreau, along with many other naturalists, looked to the outdoors for a simpler life rather than dealing with the day-to-day stresses of the world.
Although Thoreau and naturalists were around in the 19th century, being outdoors is as much of a stress reliever today as it was back then.
Now, some may say young adults are “addicted to screens” or are part of the “I can’t even” generation, but who can really blame them?
Between outrageous tuition costs and the growing threat of nuclear war, stress levels for millennials are higher than ever before, causing them to look toward technology as an outlet.
A Nielsen company audience report found that Americans spend over 10 hours per day looking at screens. This is just under half of a day that is wasted on social media and Netflix.
A survey taken by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America revealed that 85 percent of college students had felt overwhelmed by something in the past school year while another survey found that 19 percent of millennials suffer from anxiety and depression.
Although this may be surprising, there are alternative and effective ways to fight off stress and, luckily for us App students, these natural treatments can be found in App’s own backyard.
Gregory Bratman, a graduate student of Stanford’s Emmett Interdisciplinary program in environment and resources, conducted a study that had two groups walk for 90 minutes, one group going on a path with trees and shrubs, the other group walking on an urban sidewalk.
The study found decreased activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain associated with negative thoughts, in the participants who walked through nature.
Due to the countless outdoor recreation opportunities in Boone, many students have turned to the wilderness for a free natural stress reliever.
When asked why she heads to the outdoors when feeling stressed, first year graphic design major Morgan Kilby said, “It makes me feel happy and content that even if I’m not doing anything but standing in the woods. It makes me feel like I’m being productive because I am still putting myself out there to experience new things.”
Some of Kilby’s favorite trails start at the wooden stairs behind Bowie residence hall and up the hill toward the wind turbine.
This hike offers a moderate trek through a scenic valley with a babbling creek spilling into a pond.
Another popular destination for those seeking comfort in the outdoors is Snake Mountain, standing at 5,564 feet and only a 20 minute drive off campus.
Freshman political science major Nick Mcgregor said, “The view of endless mountains was well worth the hike” and said that he left the park looking back and wishing there was more trail.
If you are without a car, like most freshmen, Howards Knob Park is just a 25 minute walk from campus up East Junaluska Road. Howards Knob Park offers a scenic overlook of Boone and the surrounding mountains.
In fact, you do not even have to leave campus to find a place located outdoors to reside.
In 2008, University News of Appalachian State said over $1 million was spent restoring the Boone Creek that babbles along Rivers Street.
Surrounding the creek is a path with trees to set up a hammock or space to toss a frisbee around.
This area is a perfect place to get away from a nagging roommate or forget about that upcoming exam.
If you are looking for an overnight trip, outdoor programs offers a plethora of adventurous activities from rock climbing to white water rafting.
If you do not want to go out in a big group, camping supplies, such as tents, sleeping pads and cooksets, are available to rent for students in the student recreation center.
Appalachian State was rated the top college for adventure sports by The Outbound Collective. Not only can you rid your mind of unwanted stress, but you can have new experiences and make friends along the way.
So set down the iPad and take a walk through the woods, climb a mountain, ride a bike or relax to the steady flow of Boone Creek.
Nate Fordyce is an undecided freshman from Chicago, Illinois.
Photo by: Reilly Finnegan, Chief Copy Editor