The stress of this week had my mind almost feeling like it was closing in on itself, my mood was depressive and irritable, and my body was run down and fatigued. Having to deal with a work-related drama and a couple days of group decision-making, on top of a sick kid running a 103-105 fever at times and literally losing my voice after coming down with my own version of the cold, I was looking forward to getting out of the house to lead the Women's Nature Therapy & Mindfulness hike on Saturday morning. The shift I felt afterwards as I went about my day was so dramatic! I felt my mood boost, my head clearer than it had been all week as if a fog had lifted. My physical body had an energy boost making me ready and able to do the errands I needed to do after a long week of being stuck in the house with a sick kiddo. It was truly like medicine.
There is actually research that shows that moving your body and mindfulness practices do the same thing to your brains chemistry as taking an anti-depressant! See an article about this topic here.
The benefits of connecting and talking to others in the woods are also shown to be majorly impactful when it comes to mental health and wellness.
Dr. Sunjay Gutpa, neuroscientist, talks about this, he says "The best thing you can do for your brain is take a walk in the woods with a friend and discuss your problems."
In our sessions, one of my goals is to facilitate meaningful connections. People can go to a bar and strike up a surface level conversation with anyone, anytime. But this does not have the same impact as connecting over meaningful topics to people who are on a similar life path.
“Loneliness isn’t the physical absence of other people....it’s the sense that you’re not sharing anything that matters with anyone else. If you have lots of people around you—perhaps even a husband or wife, or a family, or a busy workplace—but you don’t share anything that matters with them, then you’ll still be lonely.”
“When they added up the figures, John and other scientists found that being disconnected from the people around you had the same effect on your health as being obese—which was, until then, considered the biggest health crisis the developed world faced.”
And studies have also shown that just 15 minutes a day in the forest can have significant mental and physical health benefits. You can learn more about that here.
A #natureandmindfulness 1.5 hour session has so many aspects of #mentalhealth and wellness support - moving your body, connecting meaningfully with others, #mindfulness/quiet time, self-reflection, inspiration, as well as tuning into your senses intentionally. It's like a large dose of clarity, anti-depressant, and a yoga class all in one!
After each session we have a closing circle and we "check-out" (vs. checking in) with one word to describe how we're feeling after the session. This morning's words were "reprieve", "power", "grounded", "space". Things we all need more of, more of the time!
Not only do the participants who attend are in a position to receive the benefits experience all it has to offer, but even me as the facilitator can feel significant benefits.
Find out more about Upward Spiral Wellness nature therapy events and offerings on the events page of the website. #natureinformedtherapist #licensedtherapist #baltimorementalhealth #forestbathing #marylandmentalhealth #stress #burnout