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Happier in Montana

By Katie Holbeck

Montana is a total treasure in this world of chaos.

Where other places have angry traffic jams, we “rural folk” may have to pause every once in awhile on the gravel road to let cattle move between locations. In cities, strangers don’t even look at each other while walking on the same sidewalk, but in Montana, we spend half an hour talking to a wrong number. And where there is an abundance of stress, worry, and mental distress in more populated and industrial areas, Montana provides a calm oasis and welcome retreat for the mind. I know how awesome Central Montana can be for people who have stress overload — especially for those facing mental disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), as I have experienced these myself. Coming from someone who has been on the bad side of chaos, and I can tell you that this place, this oasis, is good for the soul.

Here’s why.

1. Seasonal Depression is less seasonal.

The sun shines more in Lewistown than any other place I have lived. The winters, though occasionally brutally cold and full of snow are generally blue skies with puffy clouds and (gasp) sunshine. It makes a difference. Bonus points… I still wear sunscreen because I have ginger skin, but I don’t get burned. Sorry Arizona and San Diego you may have more sunny days, but this is a major win for the Big Sky State.

2. The water is pure.

It’s a big deal that our water is locally sourced and generally nearly as perfect as you can get, even if you filter. This is a big boost for healthy living and dealing with depression. Check out this video about Big Spring Creek that talks about the source of Lewistown water and other interesting facts.

3. Events aren’t “large.”

In another Montana town, I lived in that shall not be named, though it is amazing, thousands of people would show up for events such as Brew Fests. Lewistown will draw a crowd where you can feel safe and not be involved if you’re having an anxiety flair. The only place you might feel stressed is Albertson’s, but there are other options to buy here if you get creative.

4. The people insanely in love with nature.

We’re a HUGE agricultural community, so people know how to treat this land and our natural resources right. Ranchers use solar panels just to cut down on costs of irrigation. There’s a strong presence of wind power in the area. There’s a lot of people and businesses doing their best to go GREEN. Additional benefits from local produce that doesn’t travel thousands of miles; extra points for organic farming. Then there’s the great air quality. Plus, if you ask around, you might just find a coffee shop that sources the top 10% of organic coffee beans and roasts them in-house. Healthy food equals a better quality of life, a happier body and in turn, a less depressed mind.

5. We talked about water, but what about the wide-open space?

It’s called the Big Sky for a reason and though I’m still trying to get used to not being in a “valley” you can see for miles upon miles, enjoy hiking, camping, fishing and other adventures in the local “Montana Island Mountains” and as the famous bumper sticker says, “Get Lost” without seeing a soul… well maybe a friendly deer. Studies show that time spent in nature decreases stress and aids in one’s ability to fight depression. Sign me up.