The world today can be hard to digest. From repeated mass shootings to hateful political rhetoric to the impact of climate change, we’re inundated with negativity each time we turn on a television or read a headline.
That, compounded with the natural stress associated with daily life (health, career, relationships), can be overwhelming—but how can we avoid it?
My solution lately has been to focus more on spirituality, health and wellness. To fill my life with as many positive elements as I can from curating my social content to include more “good news” (I recommend following groups such as the Good News Network and Positive News UK) to listening to soothing music and vibrations as I work.
My greatest coping mechanism? Immersing myself in nature.
There are few things more beneficial to the soul than a walk in the woods or near water (I prefer both, quite frankly).
On my near-daily walks to a nearby lake, I can feel my blood pressure lower the instant I step onto the trail. I’m met with the sounds of birds chirping, children giggling and splashes of water as I start my trek. I don’t time myself or run—I deliberately take my time to … (forgive me) … stop and smell the roses.
I enjoy taking photos of flowers at different stages of bloom; of trees as their leaves appear, change color and disappear; of ducks as they emerge with a new batch of ducklings each spring and the occasional eagle or heron that may fly alongside me.
Though there are always other people on the trail, it somehow remains remarkably serene, all of us in a silent agreement to enjoy Mother Earth’s bounty and beauty without disrupting one another.
At times I’ll sit on one of the benches along the path and reflect on the day or try to strategize ways to solve a problem. The fresh air of nature coupled with the exercise of the walk produces a bouquet of endorphins that helps provide a brighter outlook on everything, so I always leave feeling better than when I arrived.
The great thing about walks in nature is that they can be tailored to both extroverts and introverts.
I’m an extrovert by nature—I like to be social. But I only like to be social if I’ve had an ample amount of “alone time” to prepare. So I’m one of those people who will gladly welcome company on a walk … but would sometimes prefer the solitude of a solo jaunt if I’m headed there to clear my head.
I feel the same way about romantic love—I want a partner that will desire me and shower me with attention and affection … and then go away for a bit and not be offended that I want to be alone sometimes; that I need to be alone sometimes.
Perhaps that’s why I’ve never married? 🙂
But I digress …
Introverts can benefit just as much from these nature breaks, as they’re never required to go with anyone else. And the best thing about nature walks in general is that they’re free.
I realize that I am blessed to live in a part of the world that has no shortage of forests or bodies of water, but even in the middle of large cities there are usually parks to sneak off to if no hiking trails can be found nearby.
The main thing to do is to find someplace to breathe. Practice mindfulness whenever you can and try to reset your personal compass to point it in a direction of love.
Love for yourself, love for others and love for our earth.