Growing up in the north woods of Minnesota, I probably spent more time outdoors than in. I have always been somewhat of an introvert and loved spending time by myself in the woods.
It has always been a place where I not only can relate with nature, but with myself as well. No matter what life's problems were, I could always deal with them better in the woods.
The same thing applied to stress. All I needed to do was to get out into the woods for a time and just forget things. It's like my attention refocused on nature instead of life, and everything was better. Then, after a while, I could come back to reality and think of optimistic solutions.
I'm still much like this, except now, living in eastern South Dakota, there just aren't any forests to escape into. There are some wooded areas but they are some distance and this makes them less convenient for me. Then, add to this the fact that lots of people seek out these locations, and it makes it difficult to escape without bumping into another person.
If it was just a quick walk in the woods that I needed, then it wouldn't be as difficult, but I need to spend some time there. Time to reflect, time to admire nature, time to enjoy the animals around me, and time to clear my mind. This takes a minimum of hours, and more like a full day out in the woods.
And not just hiking, although that's part of my love of the woods. After some hiking I love finding a nice, secluded spot and just meditating there with the natural sounds of the woods for a background. Ideally, setting up a tent and camping for a few days would be the best.
Along with my being out there in the woods, alone and into nature, there just isn't anything quite like a flickering hardwood fire to calm the soul and remove the toxins of life from ones mind. Either one is terrific, but together they are indescribable.