Four years ago, I woke up in a flurry of emotions; my mind weighed down by a cloud of anxiety and depression. Will he break up with me? What will happen? What should I do? I forced a bowl of cereal down and crawled back into bed. The sun shone through the window beckoning me outside. It looks so happy out there, so why am I sitting in here wallowing in my own pity? I got dressed, put my walking shoes on, stuffed a water bottle, my phone, and a journal in my purse, and went outside.
The summer sun embraced me. I walked, and every step I took the dense cloud on my mind evaporated a little more. I passed by a house with a massive tree that was covered now with bright green leaves. I stopped for a second to inhale and enjoy its beauty. More green trees, flowers, and soft grass beckoned me onward until I departed the subdivision. Across the street was a natural field. Beautiful purple and yellow wildflowers bloomed; their colors filled me with unexplainable happiness. It was hard to believe I was depressed just moments before.
I stopped and sat with the flowers, blue sky, sun, and gentle breeze. They carried away all my fear. Everything I had been anxious about seemed so silly. Nature is more than some nice, pretty scenery to look at; there is this energy about it that brings you back to reality, back to yourself. It restores. It heals. I started to take walks like this every day where I would spend an hour or two enjoying nature and letting nature heal me. Many times, it was the only thing that kept me sane.
In Florida, I would experience similar healing from the ocean. Stressful school assignments would be looming overhead, I would feel overwhelmed with all I had to do, but then we would go to the beach and as my toes touched the sand then the waves, I would forget all my stress and my mind was clear again. It wasn’t that I tried to forget my worries–it happened on its own. Nature healed me without me doing anything but stepping outside and enjoying it for a moment. Life is slower in nature. Nature knows how not to be busy, rest, and enjoy. That peace can’t help but rub off on you.
Nature not only restores us mentally but physically as well. The other day I had been lying in bed with stomach cramps and backaches all day. I was sure I couldn’t run, but I went with my husband to the park anyway. It was beautiful; all the trees were blooming; the grass was growing long and bright green. I tried running, and as I did I felt no pain, the movement felt good. Nature felt good. I managed to run the whole mile around the park, surprised at what my body could do. Movement and being in nature has this way of making you forget your pain, to enjoy and rest in the moment while all your other problems fade.
Originally published on Odyssey