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Explore TRV's Wilderness Wellness Connections: Nature's Serenity as a Remedy for Restoration


Research consistently demonstrates the profound positive impacts of nature immersion on human mental health Observe the 75th of Mental Health Awareness Month by committing to unplug and reconnect with the wilderness areas of the Tennessee River Valley.

NORRIS, Tenn., May 23, 2024 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Established in 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed each May for 75 years in hopes of heightening better cultural understanding about the causes, difficulties and challenges associated with personal psychological turmoil.

This year's theme for Mental Health Awareness Month is "Where to Start?" A good prescriptive answer might be, "How about in a Tennessee River Valley wilderness area?"

But in addition to celebrating three-quarters of a century promoting treatment and compassion to encourage healing and wellness, this year's Mental Health Awareness Month coincides with another notable milestone: it occurs in the 60th anniversary year since passage of America's Wilderness Act in 1964, which was established to set aside areas of innate natural value "where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."

Find Solace in Solitude

The modern environmental conservation and wilderness preservation movements were in large part born of the recognition not just of the value of nature in its own right, but the importance of safeguarding special wild places as asylum for citizens of modern civilization to retreat and hopefully recharge healthy mental functioning.

"The tendency nowadays to wander in wildernesses is delightful to see," wrote the famed naturalist writer and environmental movement founding father, John Muir, at the turn of the 20th Century. "Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life. Awakening from the stupefying effects of the vice of over-industry and the deadly apathy of luxury, they are trying as best they can to mix and enrich their own little ongoings with those of Nature, and to get rid of rust and disease."

For six decades, the Wilderness Act has safeguarded some of America's most pristine and ecologically significant landscapes. These protected areas ? including many remote sylvan gems nestled deep within Tennessee River Basin watersheds and unfathomably ancient Southern Appalachian mountains ? serve as sanctuaries for both biodiversity and human well-being seeking, offering unparalleled opportunities for outdoor exercise, exploration, and spiritual renewal.

Nature Nurturing Mind & Body

Research consistently demonstrates the profound positive impacts of nature immersion on human mental health. Time spent in nature correlates with reduced stress levels, improved mood, enhanced cognitive function, and increased feelings of happiness and well-being. The sights, sounds, smells and sacred solitude of wilderness engages our physical and soulful senses. Even a short walk in the wilderness provides a therapeutic respite from the pressures of day-to-day life that can take an often unacknowledged toll on even the most stoic and well-adjusted of us.

Exposure to nature has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders and even upticks in empathy and cooperation, according to the American Psychological Association.

Wilderness is a place both to heal a wounded psyche and help sustain a healthy mind ? to offer physical challenge and provide spiritual refuge. Whether you're wallowing in a pit of despair or floating on a cloud of bliss, wilderness can ground you, elevate you and reconnect your inner self with the most authentic and restorative aspects of the outer world.

The immense national forests flanking the Tennessee River Valley are home to more than 25 designated wilderness areas. Many of them ? like the vast Big Frog and Cohutta tracts along the Tennessee-Georgia border, or diminutive but dazzling Gee Creek gorge just up the road in Polk County, Tennessee ? were among the first swaths of scenic and rugged woodland set aside for special protection after the Wilderness Act was expanded to include eastern U.S. public lands in 1975.

So what better time than the present to highlight the rehabilitating power of nature and the great outdoors? This year's theme for Mental Health Awareness Month is "Where to Start?" A good prescriptive answer might be, "How about in a Tennessee River Valley wilderness area?"

"Environmental conservation really begins in our minds," said Tennessee River Valley Stewardship Council executive director Julie Graham. "There's something deeply rewarding and inspiring about the idea that when we seek to preserve and heal ecologically important landscapes and natural habitats, those landscapes are healing and preserving us as well, both physically and mentally."

To learn more about Wilderness Areas in the Tennessee River Basin, visit ExploreTRV's wilderness portal.

To explore and discover wilderness areas nationwide, visit Wilderness Connect https://wilderness.net/

Media Contact

Julie Graham, TRV Stewardship Council, 8655850811, [email protected], https://tennesseerivervalleygeotourism.org/

SOURCE Tennessee River Valley


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