Why My Therapist Recommended Me To Reconnect With Nature

Mindsmatter

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I know you are all excited to go back to concerts and festivals, but I can’t wait to go back to parks, forests, and mountains.

Surrounding myself with nature has become a conscious action that I must seek, it is no longer an instinct or an internal force that pushes me. And yes, the pandemic had a lot to do with it. For several months we couldn’t even go out to the park, so I had to bring nature to my apartment. Before I knew it, I became a mom of 24 plants and flowers.

However, although we can already go for a walk outdoors even without masks, I feel that I have lost the will to connect with nature as before. PTSD maybe? Confinement made us feel guilty for going out again.

My disconnection with nature has made me feel sick, distraught, and frustrated. I did not realize this alone, it was an insight from my therapist. This is no longer a hobby, it is a necessity for my well-being and mental health.

I don’t want to sound like a crazy naturopath who insinuates that you can fight cancer with teas, but I am aware of the effect that isolating yourself from nature can have on your health.

My doctor prescribed a barefoot walk on the grass. Try it, it’s Gluten-free!

If you are sick and are going to see a doctor, they will most likely recommend that you rest at home. That means missing work, school, and avoiding going out for a while. You may think that it is to avoid making others sick (and yes, in part) but in reality, it is because being away from home can affect your health.

Now, we spent a year without being able to leave the house, why do we still feel sick?! Because you can have a different concept of home. Although for me home is where your phone connects to WiFi automatically, home is where you feel most complete. It could be at a Yankees game, at an art gallery, or at the lake house where you had your first kiss.

It doesn’t matter that you were born and raised in a big, crowded city your whole life, our essential home as a species is nature. It is in our roots, in our origin. That is why you may need to visit your ancestral home from time to time or you will start to get sick.

See it as a vacation for your mind and body. But how can you start? You see, it is not enough to rent an Airbnb in the middle of the forest and spend the weekend watching Netflix. There are very easy ways to really reconnect with nature.

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

How to actually connect with nature

Our ancestors literally lived surrounded by nature and I’ve never heard of a caveman with depression. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Just kidding.

Well, not completely. When was the last time you left town, took a walk alone in the park, or disconnected from everyday life for a few minutes? If you don’t know how to answer, you may need these tips:

Be aware that it is not hippie advice, it is scientifically proven that the absence of nature in our lives affects our health. See it as a much cheaper therapy session if that helps, although that is never a substitute for professional help. Now and then you need a detox from stress, a busy lifestyle, and chores.

When you decide to do it, you must commit to doing it well. Do you really know the park that you have visited hundreds of times? Or you’ve just jogged through it without noticing your surroundings. Take the time to appreciate all the elements that are there, the sounds of the birds, the types of trees. If necessary, sit in a quiet place and close your eyes for a few minutes.

Avoid taking your phone, headphones, apple watch, camera, or any distracting device with you. You are going to connect with nature not to discover unexplored lands, Christopher Columbus. Take only the essentials with you.

Take the opportunity to meditate. You don’t necessarily have to sit in the lotus position and light incense, you can meditate your way. Use the moment to converse with yourself, maybe you’ve been too busy lately to listen to yourself. Silence and loneliness can help you connect with yourself.

The benefits are endless

I can sit here and talk about how all of this helps us regulate emotions, release stress, relieve tension, prevent depression and anxiety, and the list goes on.

I’m not saying that you should leave civilization to live on the top of a tree, just don’t forget to reconnect with nature from time to time. I know I will soon. If I don’t show up in three weeks, look for me on top of a mountain, in the middle of the ocean, or deep inside the Amazon rainforest.

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Mindsmatter is written by Bola Kwame, Jack Graves and Emma Buryd. De-stigmatizing mental illness one day at a time. www.linktr.ee/Mindsmatter

New York, NY
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