Nature is a Profound Therapy for Depression
My head is a labyrinth. I'm always judging myself, thinking about my past or worrying about the future. I feel trapped in my head -- a classic sign of depression.
Earlier today I couldn't sort my thoughts out to write this blog post. I thought I was procrastinating when I chose to take my dog for a walk, but I soon discovered it was just what I needed to get unstuck.
I soon found myself walking in the direction of the woods near my parents' house where trails zigzag along a peaceful river. At first my dog was totally confused, not being used to being surrounded by bushes and trees on his walks, but soon he was blazing the trail ahead of me, completely ecstatic about being outdoors for real.
I'd known that going out into the sunshine would boost my mood a little, but I'd forgotten how therapeutic being in nature can be. Of course, it's one of those things that people say are good for your mental health (almost to the point of being cliche), but there was more to it for me than just hearing water in the background and feeling sunlight on my skin.
Nature Is a Powerful Therapy for Depression
What stood out to me on my walk was how much growth and production is going on in this world without me even thinking about it. Each plant just grows and thrives and follows the seasons. Bugs fly around, the wind rushes through leaves, the river just keeps moving. The woods are so busy and absolutely none of it had anything to do with me or my depression. It was completely out of my hands. Was it ever beautiful.
Some of the trees in the woods were so tall that I couldn't see the their tops; some were so thick around that I couldn't encircle them with my arms. How long have they been there? How many human lives have passed since these trees were planted?
Being in the woods helped me see a beauty in the world that was both simple and intricate. It reminded me that I don't have to understand everything around me all the time. It reminded me that life is both short and enduring.
Getting any kind of exercise helps with depression, as does sunlight, or being with animals. Today I got a dose of those three things, as well as a kind of existential anchoring that no pill or doctor could ever hand me.
The world has hope in it; go outside and find it.
Schulthies, E. (2014, August 14). Nature is a Profound Therapy for Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, October 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2014/08/nature-is-a-profound-therapy-for-depression
Author: Erin Schulthies
When I disappeared for 30 days without telling anyone (bad idea by the way) I spent that time hiking the Appalachian trial for which I was ill prepared. While I would agree that there are benefits to being out in the woods, when I used them as an escape I think they lost some of the value as a therapy tool. I find that as part of a program that includes therapy, medication and physical activity, that being out in nature is a very productive use of time.