Find Your Natural Doorway to Wellness
May 3, 2023
CMHA Mental Health Week
May 3, 2023
What are the chances you fall within the 48% of Canadians who feel “really or seriously stressed” at least once a week? This fact shocked me, but in our fast-paced, modern world, I suppose it makes sense. If this level of stress rings true, I’m sorry. However, I think I have some good news. Reprieve from chronic stress could be as easy as going out your door.
But first, a quick story.
Some of my earliest childhood memories are of the grassy beach where our family spent summers. I recall abundant fresh fruit, my bare skin warmed by the sun, and swimming in the lake almost all the time. But the most impactful thing was hearing the gentle sound of the wind through the white pines that lined the shore. Those beautiful trees were tall and wide, with rough, scratchy bark and soft needles that, when blown, provided a constant, calming soundtrack. When recalling these powerful memories, I am reminded that nature makes me feel good, and so I try to let her in as often as I can.
But, can nature really improve our state of being?
If you research the health benefits of time in nature, you’ll find a wild number of books, websites, and programs that are championing the proven science of nature-based wellness. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence we’re at a time of a climate crisis and what is sometimes referred to as a mental health epidemic. It seems like we all need to get back to basics, allow ourselves to feel grounded, and tune in to what’s happening around us and within us. We need Mother Earth, and she needs us too.
When I began my Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guide Training after years of work in habitat conservation and mental health counselling, I was amazed at the simple, yet intricate ways Mother Earth enters our days. The sound of the rain on a rooftop, stepping between tree roots that split the sidewalk, that potted plant that refuses to really thrive. Through guiding forest therapy experiences, I’ve come to believe that nature continuously provides lessons, inspiration and support. When we mindfully pay attention to the biology around us, our own biology responds. Becoming aware of our surroundings is profoundly simple, yet nature’s offerings are limitless.
And this is my hope for you, for everyone really.
I hope we can all allow our attention to catch Mother Earth, however and wherever she might present herself. It could be through your pet, during a walk to the store, or outside your window before you fall asleep. It doesn’t always need to be wilderness, and it doesn’t always need to be life changing. It’s as easy as this: allow the birds a few minutes to adjust to your presence, and in that moment, I wonder what you might notice?
You have your own unique connection to nature. That is your doorway. That is how we and Mother Earth can heal each other.
For more information about nature and wellness, check out The Nature Playbook by the Canadian Parks Council.
By Wil Brunner
Certified Forest Therapy Guide
Soft Pine Wellness
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