May 16, 2021: A Natural Antidote to Worry
“Nature can bring you to stillness, that is its gift to you.”Eckhart Tolle
There is a children’s book, Wemberly Worried, by Kevin Henkes, about a little mouse who worried about everything! From the moment she awoke, to bedtime, Wemberly’s mind generated all kinds of troublesome possibilities; from “Something scary might come out of the crack in the ceiling, to what if no one asked her to to play? Her endless worries seemed excessive and a bit humorous, but struck a chord into the worriers among us. I could relate to Wemberly, having an over-active imagination and the habits of a life-long worrier.
Over the years, I’ve learned ways to calm whirling thoughts, from exercise and guided meditation, to spiritual readings and reality checks. Fears about the future, whether it’s a worry about a family member, to the chaotic and complex state of the modern world, can be addressed by pulling thoughts back from the rabbit hole of “what ifs?”, to the present moment and focus on what really is happening? Asking, “Can my worries make a difference one way or another?” can help to identify if they are necessary or not. If not, let them go and find a positive alternative to non-productive and/or negative thoughts. Pulling our minds into the reality of “now”, can help to build awareness, as Wemberly learned about the futility of unnecessary worry and ,to increase our own enjoyment of the moment. One powerful way to focus on the present and increase positivity is by spending time in nature.
“Nature itself is the best physician.”Hippocrates
A recent study of 20,000 people in England showed that spending two hours a week in nature, either all at once or spread over time, showed increased good health and psychological well-being more than those who don’t.
“These studies have shown that time in nature — as long as people feel safe — is an antidote for stress: It can lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve mood. Attention Deficit Disorder and aggression lessen in natural environments, which also help speed the rate of healing. In a recent study, psychiatric unit researchers found that being in nature reduced feelings of isolation, promoted calm, and lifted mood among patients.”https://e360.yale.edu/features/ecopsychology-how-immersion-in-nature-benefits-your-health
Whether it’s a stroll through our neighborhood to see what’s blooming, gardening, a hike on a nature trail or savoring a sunset, our senses become engaged and focused on what’s happening now. We can observe how change can be celebrated as a part of life, and achieve the benefits from fresh air and moving our bodies.
When we head outdoors, I set my intention on being aware of what’s around me and consciously let go of aggravating thoughts. Binoculars and camera in hand, we seek out the wonders that surround us every day in the natural world. From the sight of budding leaves, to the sweet song of a warbler, my thoughts are on the moment, not in a rabbit warren of worries. Concerns about the future, fade away in the beauty of the moment leaving a sense of calm and well-being.
Once knowing the benefits of healing from spending time in nature, we can find ways to incorporate more into our lives. The study showed that two hours each week seemed to be the critical point for health benefits. It’s a priceless gift to ourselves and a natural antidote to the stresses of living in a modern world.
Thank you as always for reading our blog and we welcome your thoughts and/or quotes that inspire you. We’ve included some that continue to inspire us. Please feel free to share this with someone who might find it meaningful.
Quotes to Inspire
“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.”John Lubbock
“I go to nature to be soothed, healed and have my senses put in order.”John Burroughs
“Allow nature’s peace to flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.”John Muir
“Nature has been for me, for as long as I remember, a source of solace, inspiration, adventure, and delight; a home, a teacher, a companion.”Lorraine Anderson
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”Rachel Carson