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Resting Through Nature and Community

In this guest blog post, hear from Samantha Jeune, a member of Hike+Heal, on how she’s changed her perspective on overall health and why it’s important to prioritize your wellness.

– Samantha Jeune, member of Hike+Heal

Do you ever feel like you’re trying to do it all? Do you get to a point where everything feels like it’s too much? Well, you’re not alone. 

As young professionals, it is easy to focus on our careers, school, family, and everything else on our to-do list except our mental health and well-being. With such busy lives, rest and self-care can end up on the back burner. I had that same mentality until I realized in 2020 that running on empty wasn’t doing me any favors. My body let me know that I could no longer ignore my physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. I knew something in my life had to change. 

In her TED Talk, “The real reason why we are tired and what to do about it,” Dr. Saundra Dalton Smith talks about the seven types of rest that we all need to improve our overall wellness. She believes rest should equal restoration in seven key areas of your life: spiritual, mental, emotional, social, sensory, physical, and creative rest. In order to nourish our mind, body, and spirit, we have to make rest a priority. One way I’ve learned to incorporate rest and focus on my well-being is through hiking in community with others.

When I found the hiking group Hike+Heal in 2020, I didn’t know what to expect. Growing up as a Black girl, I never saw myself as an outdoors person, but Hike+Heal changed that narrative for me. Their mission is to provide accessible healing hikes and gatherings for women in order to improve overall wellness. The organization is centered on women of color and has a diverse community of women who are on their journey of healing and self-discovery. They gave me a new perspective on hiking.

On my first hike with them, I was so nervous! I was a beginner and I didn’t know anyone. However, I had nothing to fear! All fitness levels were welcomed. Women of all ages and backgrounds came through. Before the hike, we all got in a circle, introduced ourselves, and answered a prompt that related to the theme of the hike. The women in the group made space for this shy, sensitive, introverted individual and embraced me. I felt like I could show up as I am. Throughout the hike, I felt love and kindness from folks as people talked to each other or stopped at a section of the trail to take in the beauty around us. It was community care in action. I realized I had found that connection to nature and community that I was looking for. I was sold. 

Hiking in community with others helps me to get the rest I need when life feels like it’s too much. My mind, body, and spirit felt always feels at peace after a hike with the group. I notice that I am less stressed, less anxious, less lonely, and calmer. That is the power of nature and community care. In a time where we can feel so disconnected from others and our environment sometimes, hiking in community with like-minded women gives me the best of both worlds. Now I make connecting in nature and in community with others a priority because I know how much I benefit from it. 

Making a habit of spending regular time in nature, especially with others, can do a lot to boost our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness. When we prioritize our wellness, it allows us to show up better for ourselves and for others. 

We’re highlighting young professionals and organizations in Philadelphia who are doing great work in their fields as part of our efforts to create a community of emerging leaders dedicated to philanthropy.