STOP READING and breathe. Now complete the task below:
If you are able, go outside and find a place where you can sit and listen to nature. If you live in the city here is a nature sounds video you can play. Set a timer for 5 minutes (or longer, the video is 2 hours long) and close your eyes. Envision being present in the moment trying to identify the different sounds that you hear. You may be bombarded with thoughts that are distracting. How you breathe can help. Being mindful with your breaths can add laser focus to this time. Try to take long controlled breaths through your nose and release them just as slowly through your mouth. Be intentional. Be present. Do this when you are able to do so uninterrupted.
How are you feeling now? Do you feel lighter? More loose? Your mental health is the most important part of you that you should take care of. This requires self care that you may not feel you are worth or think you have time for. Trust me. You need to make time. You ARE worth it.
For me, self care is going outside. Whether it is first thing in the morning sitting on my front porch with my wife and a cup of coffee or it is exploring a local trail, I know that nature provides me with the necessary benefits for my mental health. I was recently asked how I have time to be outdoors when I have a family, job, and other responsibilities. I responded by saying, “My life depends on it.”
Here is the thing. The outdoors isn’t just something that works for me for my mental well being (hence why I had you go outside or listen to the video). There are countless studies that show everyone can experience benefits to mental health from spending time outside. A recent article from Lumino health states that spending 120 minutes a week outdoors at a minimum will help lower anxiety, boost your mood, experience better cognitive function, increase in creativity and the ability to focus, as well as improvements of memory.
So…. with all that being said, how are you doing? I genuinely want to know. You can comment below if you feel comfortable sharing, or you can email me to share your struggles at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional therapist or psychiatrist. I do, however, have ten years of counseling experience.
You are important and valuable. You are worthy and special. Take time to take care of your mind, body, and soul. You’ll thank yourself that you did.
Hope From the Trail
Hope From the Trail features original content related to the healthy pursuit of self, others, and nature. Be sure to stay connected for all things outdoors.