Guest blog by Lenore Pranzo, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
There is a movement towards the understanding of the mind and body benefits of being in nature. The nature connection movement is not new, yet seems more necessary than ever. Today’s technology and fast-paced lifestyles have overridden much of our innate connection with nature and ourselves. Most of us know that when we are outside we are generally less stressed. Yet we find it hard to bring that with us when we go inside and life’s stressors take over.
When one is trying to get pregnant and finds it isn’t happening in the way they thought it would, it puts them in a state of confusion, stress and sadness. More recent events of pandemic life have amplified this troubling phenomenon and make easing this pressure even harder. Nature teaches, embraces and allows us to shed critical thinking, negative thoughts, and self-doubt. How do we transition ourselves to turn back to what is our natural state? Ecopsychology helps us find our way back to nature. It goes beyond taking a walk, jog, swim, hike or jaunt in the woods. It teaches us to experience ourselves in a whole new way. It helps us relieve stress, anxiety, depression and other psychological maladies in a gentle, loving way. Who wouldn’t want that?
You can take care of yourself, mind, body and soul by reconnecting with and reducing stress through nature. Three steps that can help are; go outside and connect with nature, bring the connection inside, and bring the connection to bed (makes a great bedmate). We can all think of a time when nature healed without being the intent. As Jenn from Connecticut states about coping after miscarriage “I would go to the water and sit on a bench and I felt like everything was going to be okay. The serenity of the outside and looking into the vastness somehow brought a sense of calm and hope and healing to me.” It was able to bring her to the present without all the past pain and future worries. She was able to make a ritual of going to the water and move her through the stages of grief she was experiencing on a daily basis.
First, go outside and find a comfortable place to connect. This could be your backyard, a park, a balcony, the beach, a tree, pond, creek, or houseplant. Take a moment to send your intention and desire to be in the space. You will know you are welcome when you feel a calmness or some other good sensation. In this moment try to get as comfortable as possible, sit down anywhere you are drawn. If you don’t feel attracted to sitting down, you casually walk around. Do what you feel attracted to do in the moment. What are you most drawn to? Why? Say it outloud or inside your head why this is so attractive to you. You can even stand, sit or move while enjoying the exchanging of breath with the trees. You breathe out and the trees take your air and make oxygen for you to breathe in. Ahhhhh. Stay as long as you desire. When you feel ready to move inside or even to another place go ahead.
Second, once you are back inside you can bring the connection with you. That means validating what you learned about yourself during this time with nature. What were you drawn to while outside? Was it one thing in particular, was it many? What about these things were attractive to you? Remember what you felt while you were outside connecting. Don’t worry, you can go back outside and feel it again. However, you can also remind yourself of all that you experienced throughout the rest of the day. Or you can sit down, breathe in and out and remember the sensations of being outside and connected. You can also sit facing a window as you think about this.
Lastly, when it is time to go to bed, bring the connection with you to sleep. While you are in bed and laying down and comfortable, breathe in and out in an easy slow rhythm as you breathe in your connection experience. Remind yourself about what was so attractive to you. Did it remind you of a wonderful memory from your childhood? Take it to your sleeping mind by thinking about it again and how great it felt. This will help you settle into your sleep and carry over your positive connection.
Every day is a new opportunity to reset and clear what is weighing you down. You simply have to let nature teach and heal. Get outside and go where you feel the pull. Daily nature encounters will help reset your overstressed mind, body and soul.
Lenore Pranzo is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice with a background in mental health, stress management, substance abuse, couples, fertility and adolescent counseling. In addition to counseling, Lenore has a variety of experiences, including leading mediation groups and hypnosis, which allows her to customize her solution-focused approach based on the needs of the individual. She believes there is not a “one size fits all” approach to working with people to learn new ways to deal with relationships and situations to help relieve stress on the body and mind.
In addition to balancing time with family, including her two teenagers, Lenore is an avid nature enthusiast who looks for opportunities to spend as much time outdoors as possible. She is presently working on a Ph.D. in Applied Ecopsychology from Project Nature Connect and Akamai University. For more information, visit Ecopsychology.