If you hadn’t heard already, this week is mental health week and like every mental health week that’s held each year by the Mental Health Foundation this year holds a new theme: Nature.
For me nature is something I have always been surrounded by. A wooded area in my old town home used to be my frequent playground and animals have always been constant companions in my life. I don’t think I could survive without loosing myself to nature at least 2 to 3 times a week, it’s like a medicine that I need to take weekly that helps to rejuvenate me.
Nature is so central to our psychological and emotional health and benefits us in SO many ways and to avoid or ignore those benefits and the beauty of nature is simply like us avoiding medicine when we are sick, except this medicine doesn’t have a particular taste and doesn’t come in a bottle but it helps our mental state just as well.
With the rise in social media over the years a lot of people have forgotten how important the simplicity of walking down a dirt path/road or listening to the birds sing their songs are truly needed to help us and our racing minds slow down a little. It helps us to stop/slow down to apricate the small good things in life, which with all the negativity and fear that circles us constantly it feels so important that we can still acknowledge and appreciate the smaller things in life.
Suffering with sever anxiety and to one point so sever that I never left my house for a little over a year for absolutely anything, I never felt as though I was alive but simply just going through the motions of life. When I was able to push myself into going for little walks or taking friends/family’s dogs for a walk through small wood areas or parks/fields it felt like a soothing balm to my anxiety filled soul.
As some can imagine being secluded to only four walls has horrible affects to the mental health and although I still find myself tucking myself away from society a lot of the time I have made so much progress from my darker days/nights when couldn’t even walk out the back or front door to stand in my own garden without being overtaken by my anxiety.
Before I was unable to leave my house, before my anxiety took full control of my life I had already been diagnosed with depression and was in the process of being diagnose with an eating disorder. My only true escape was when I wandered off into the woods or took a walk where I knew no one really walked other than a few dog people walking their dogs.
When I was little girl to escape a lot of home problems and the feeling of overcrowding (I have a BIG family) I would hike up the welsh hills/mountains until I reached the very top, I’d spend hours just basking in the nature around me and laughing at the sheep running around, playing and eating grass. It was a true escape for me, it always was and still is and probably will always be my escape, my safe haven and my soothing balm.
Without the escape of nature I don’t know how I would have been able to cope mentally at those times, sometimes a walk in the park or woods is the thing that lets me stop and breath without feeling like huge weight is trying to crush me.
In nature I can feel the tension leave my body, a smile suddenly appears on my face and all those racing thoughts I couldn’t stop before suddenly become silent. It’s as though nature keeps my negative thoughts at bay, allowing the positive to flow through and try and heal some of the damage from the bleak and gloomy thoughts.
Recovery from mental health and from physical health can be daunting and at times discouraging as at time you can find yourself slipping back instead of forwards, and for me nature place such an immense role in helping me through my recovery.
I’m no where near to where I want to be but in my own time I am slowly getting there. So remember, recovery, it isn’t easy but it is possible and there is no time length to recovery. Recovery last as long as you need it too and it should all happen at YOUR own pace, so never compare your recovery journey to someone else’s recovery journey. We’re all on different yet similar journey’s and just like we respect other’s we should respect our own journey and struggles.
I am not where I want to be in life, but just being able to go out on a 10 minute walk makes me feel so much more free than when I was secluded to simply four walls. For me nature is the natural balm for the soul.