Retreat to Nature for a Quick Mental Kick

Cool evenings, hillsides bursting with color, re-discovering your favorite pair of worn jeans…it just doesn't get much better than fall. One of the best things about this time of year is that it's a perfect opportunity to get outside and spend some quality time in nature. If you get the time, or can make the time, plan a long weekend camping trip and get outside before the falling leaves turn to falling snow.

Camping and hiking are ideal this time of year because heat and humidity are gone and many areas have had a first frost to eliminate the gnats and mosquitoes. If you're up for a little adventure try finding a large state or national park where you can hike, spend a couple of days away from civilization and have some quiet time of reflection. (To find a camping area near you, check out the National Park Service or Outdoor Places websites.)

Whether you're a "car camper," a backcountry camper, or not normally a camper at all, a few days in the woods can do wonders for your stress levels, your blood pressure and overall frame of mind. And it's a fast and effective way to get re-charged and re-focused for work, or to prepare you for the holiday mayhem that's just around the corner.

Here are some ideas that can help you get the most out of your outdoor experience:

Get Lost In Nature: Not literally but figuratively. Find something to concentrate on when you're outside that you can "get lost in" mentally. For some, this might be bird watching or fly-fishing. For others, it can be as simple as sitting by a small creek and watching water ripple over rocks and fallen leaves move downstream. Pay attention to what is going on in nature and let the normal concerns of life leave your mind completely.

Reconnect with an Old Friend: Life moves so quickly these days that it is easy to lose touch with your friends, especially if they live in another city or state. If you can relate, invite a friend to meet you at a park or camping area somewhere in between your home cities. Getting away from the phone, the television, even the family, and spending some quality time catching up can be just what the doctor ordered to breath new life into an old friendship.

Fall for Someone: Take your spouse or significant other out for a night or two this fall…really out. Sitting around a campfire and reconnecting, snuggling up in a tent, having a deep conversation under the stars… Camping can re-kindle (pardon the pun) your romance in a matter of hours.

Fall comes every year, and every year it seems to be gone before you know it. This year, make the time, free your mind…and get to know it.