I sit at the bottom of a large tree. The trunk is shaped like it was uniquely made for me as it cuddles my back, providing me with a much-needed hug. As I relax into the trunk, I feel held and loved. I breathe deeply and slowly relax a little more. I am in my local forest, a place I enjoy visiting, especially when I feel anxious, restless, lost, bored or ungrounded. Which during these uncertain COVID-19 times seems to be more often than I would like.
The uncertainty of when COVID-19 will end, the repetitive days at home and the lack of physical connections with friends and family is impacting my daily life in how I feel and act. My work-days feel like endless screen time, and I often think I have little to look forward to. My usual overseas holidays would keep me motivated; however, that feels like a thing of the past. One thing that has kept me sane and given me a place to let go and just BE in nature.
Growing up in a rural village and spending long days outdoors playing with friends and exploring gave me a love of nature. It is my go-to place to let go of anger, of being anxious, I have danced and shouted, I have thrown things and hit things and nature as held all these emotions for me allowing me to work through them and be with them. In particular, being around old trees gives me a sense of being grounded and a belief that everything will work out. These wise trees provide a sense of something larger than myself and my ordinary daily experience. Research shows that spending as little as 15 minutes with trees lowers cortisol levels, boosts the immune system and reduces anxiety. When I am amongst trees, I can attest that I naturally slow down and become more grounded, letting go of my worries and troubling thoughts. I return to the house feeling energised and refreshed with more motivation to tackle my next work task.
As a human race, many of us have forgotten how to connect with outer nature and our inner nature. It is essential to reconnect with both, and a walk-in a forest (outer nature) helps us reconnection with ourselves (inner nature). Nature is healing and energising, and I love using both nature and outdoors with my clients. It brings a sense of calm, it allows people to slow down and escape the busy-ness of their life and lets them rediscover their wholeness.
Here are some ways you make use of nature to support you:
Spend time daily in nature - create a daily habit which is often easier when you start small.
Week 1 - put on your outdoor shoes and stand outside for 1 minute.
Week 2 - Walk to your nearest park or forest, stand for one minute and enjoy the ambience and come home.
Week 3 - Walk for 30-minute enjoying break, and calmness and the added bonus of daily exercise.
Notice how you feel when you return home
Stand in nature and use all your senses to connect with nature.
What do you hear? The birds, the raindrops, the wind on the leaves.
What do you see? Look at the detail of what you see around you. Look in the places you have not seen before, what do you notice?
What do you feel? Reach out or bend down and touch the leaves, the grass, a stone, the earth. Notice the texture and how it feels on your skin, does it surprise you?
What do you smell? Take a deep breath in what can you smell? Pick up a leaf, some moss or a stone and smell it? What does it smell like? What does it remind you of?
Let nature provide you with metaphors and messages. Sometimes it is the simple questions that can provide the most insights. Like this one
"What advice would the old oak tree give you in this situation?"
or use the seasons to shape your question
"What is eager to grow and blossom?" (Spring),
"What do you need to let go of" (Autumn)
or the weather
"What storms have you weathered and what have you learnt?"
"What gift is the raining providing today?"
Nature is a great connector.
Walk and talk with a friend
Enjoy family walks - I have watched my daughter come alive walking in the forest as she detaches from her screens and enjoys the playground of exploring and moving.
Practice silly walks imitating animals or silly leg movements (Monthy Python and John Cleese comes to mind)
Bring nature to you
Keep a plant in your office space, it might help with your attentiveness.
Face your workspace towards nature, seeing nature can be calming and inspiring.
Use essential oils derived from nature, to help you stay alert or settle down and rejuvenate.
Just by being outdoors and using all our senses to appreciate nature, we can be more mindful of the present, gain emotional resilience, and combat stress with more vitality. Nature supports our emotional ups and downs, helps with creativity and helps us feel more lively and energetic than before. Nature is giving me the support I need during Lockdown and during this time of uncertainty, explore how it can help you and enjoy a nature spot today.
Debbie is a Transformation Coach and nature lover. She provides experiences where people come alive, teams flourish and nature is embraced.