4 Ways to Let Nature De-Stress You

Four great ways for urban-dwellers to get back into nature and regain sanity (with NYC-specific tips).


My enchantment with the outdoors began when I was a kid. My mom and dad would schlep the family to Muskoka each summer. Despite my brother and I inevitably getting into a fight over back-seat territory encroachments, we always got excited when the roads got smaller and the cliffs higher, as this meant we were getting closer. Closer to the dock where we would take a water taxi to our little private island and log cottage on it. Closer to playing chess while watching boats zoom by, outdoor adventures and the constant smell of cedar and evergreens.

4 Ways to Let Nature De-Stress You

My brother and I playing a game at the cottage (love the acid-wash jean shorts, Simon!)

My brother and I would climb trees, explore the woods and take the canoe out on the lake with Dad. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? It was. But as I got older, I found myself retreat from nature; I was tied to my career, my phone and the concrete streets of NYC. I won’t lie — I became more and more stressed and anxiety-ridden. Maybe you can relate.

A few years ago, I decided to put an end to this madness and went on a quest to save my sanity. I found ways to get active in nature — no matter what city I’m in. (But I put together some specific tips just for my fellow New Yorkers.)

Here are four simple ways I found to de-stress:

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Avatar of Hilary Rowland

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 72 Comments

  1. Avatar of Sasha Smith

    Just looking at green tree’s relaxes our body and mind. Being in a forest should work wonders for our bodies.

  2. Avatar of Charleen Washington

    Charleen Washington

    I totally love these tips! It’s very important and much needed to take a break from the busy routined lifestyle! Try to avoid your cell phone as much as you can. No laptops, No Tv. Try and stay away from every gadget that connects you with the world. Just go on a hike. Take your camera along! Capture everything you wish to. It’ll work like a miracle, and you’ll feel so much better. 🙂

  3. Avatar of Shelley Donalds

    Shelley Donalds

    Sometimes the big city life really depresses me, so I need to take a break and I go to the nearest park and just admire the nature. Just sit in an open area where I can see the nature (trees, birds, may be hills,water etc.) And think, without them, what would be world like? Then I start feeling more relaxed and appreciative about everything in my life.

  4. Avatar of Ingrid Winston

    Ingrid Winston

    I had a major bird watching weekend! On Saturday I went on the bird watching tour in Prospect Park and Sunday my husband and I went to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. It’s warbler migration time and I saw several kinds in both parks. I am just a beginner which is why it’s good to go with the tour, to hear from the experts. Everyone seemed to be out enjoying nature. 🙂

  5. Avatar of Winona Miller

    Winona Miller

    The Madison Square Park is EVERYTHING! A true treasure in the city! There is always something interesting going on in this well kept park. Free wifi, live events, sculpture displays, pretty flowers & fall foliage. Pick up your lunch, sit here, enjoy the people watching. The squirrels are uber friendly. Don’t be surprised if one climbs up your leg or jumps on your shoulder to see what you’re eating.

  6. Avatar of Brenda Nelson

    Brenda Nelson

    Great tips for those who enjoy a hike or a jog out in the nature! If you are lazy, and don’t enjoy hiking, these may not be the places for you. 😉 Great places to relax and enjoy the tranquility of nature.

  7. Avatar of Leah Helms

    Leah Helms

    Great post, however some of these places are not that well known, and almost a secret spot for some. Places are kept secret for a reason. The unwanted and unappreciative people are the reason why these amazing spots are getting destroyed… I can see your good intnetions, but spreading the word about cherished paradises does more damage than good.

  8. Avatar of Loraine Aguilar

    Loraine Aguilar

    Great piece, love. Such great tips too. I have enjoyed many of these spots. Brought out lots of memories. As much as I’m having a lot of fun during my current visit to Asia, I can’t wait to go back home to New York!

  9. Avatar of Teresa Tanner

    Teresa Tanner

    I love these! But I don’t get to spend enough time in New York to do these. I only visit once a week every month for work meetings. I would love to see a San Francisco version of this guide! PLEASE! 🙂

  10. Avatar of Carolyn Robertson

    Carolyn Robertson

    No lie, I just got a little jealous because of how beautiful and tranquil these places were. Thank you for posting this. I’ll take some time off the busy city life and enjoy a day off at one of these beautiful parks this weekend, even for a few hours. 🙂

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