Today, we live in an era when stress seems to lurk everywhere, at every office and in every home. The demands of the information age require us to be constantly “plugged in” through e-mail, iphones, ipads, laptops, and other electronic devices. Sometimes I feel as if my senses are constantly being bombarded, both at work and at home. During these times I realize I have to do something before I reach the chest-pounding, high blood-pressure breaking point.
I’ve found the great universal stress reliever—one that I know we all can relate to—Nature. Yes, it is old-fashioned to “commune with nature,” and we like it that way. I’ve found it to be amazingly therapeutic and decreases my stress level beyond measure.
First, you have to be willing to take the time to “drink in” nature and all of its beauty and wonder. After all, the Universe put its best foot forward in serving up this soothing elixir of life. I know that sometimes we feel overwhelmed by life commitments—so overwhelmed, in fact, that we feel guilty if we take time out for ourselves. Other times, we feel we just don’t have the time to spare. However, if we want to successfully combat stress, it is vital that we learn to reserve time for stress-relief, and communing with nature can accomplish just that.
Even when the seasons change, nature still offers its own unique brand of seasonal stress relief. For example, in the fall, the multi-colored leaves on the trees and the beautiful blue September and October skies can put us at ease. Our senses experience the beauty of nature, making us more relaxed and better able to take on life’s challenges.
Even in the winter, we can don our jackets, gloves, and scarves as we can take brisk walks through the snow and watch the flakes delicately float down to earth. We can be energized by the brisk winds and cold temperatures. This can infuse us with a certain amount of confidence in being able to battle the elements. When you feel empowered, it reduces your stress level.
In spring, we can enjoy the true treasures of nature. How wonderful to take in the lovely aroma of the flowers just beginning to bloom, seeing the splendor of plants that have survived the scourge of winter, and listening to the birds chirping in the trees. Sometimes just gazing at trees just beginning to bud and seeing new life on the horizon, can be incredibly soothing after a stressful day on the job.
Of course, there is summer when nature appears to be at its peak of vitality. We can appreciate the scent of a freshly-mowed lawn and watch the trees gently dancing in the summer breeze. We can revel in the life-producing rays of the sun, or be stimulated by the out-pour of a summer shower. Even if you live in the city, spending just a few minutes in the outdoors can reduce your stress level dramatically.
There are also many nature-related activities we can do to help us relax, such as hiking, skiing, biking, and canoeing. These activities give us the opportunity to see the splendor of nature up close and personal and enjoy its beauty in all of its facets. Even volleyball, softball, flying a kite, or a game of Frisbee can be a tremendous lift on a summer afternoon. Because nature spreads such a magnificent feast for the senses, the outdoors can bring a sense of calm and tranquility to our lives like nothing else.
Sometimes this stress relief can occur in your own backyard. Believe it or not, it can be ever so relaxing to spend time in your garden, plant flowers, trim bushes, and pull up weeds. This can help to relax both the mind and de-stress the body. Also, even though it may have been stressful to have someone nagging at you to get you to do it, it can be both therapeutic and stress-relieving to do yard work. Such activities as mowing the lawn, raking leaves, or shoveling snow can help to remove us from sources of stress and give us a much-needed break.
Best of all, you might be surprised at how nature inspires your creativity. I know it does for me. I tend to write poetry and stories about the things I see and hear. I find this type of writing soothing and very therapeutic, especially when I’m outdoors. I leave my digital dragon (laptop) inside and take pen and pad to the park. It’s amazing how calm and relieved I feel. As the ink flows from the pen onto the pad, my stress flows from my mind and body to the elements around me.
If you’re like me, you’ll find that communing with nature can re-awaken your senses and allow you to see things you might have missed before. I find my most effective and creative answers to problems that have previously perplexed me and caused me undue stress. The great outdoors provides us all with a renewed sense of vitality for life and is a readily available sanctuary from the world of blaring TV sets, video games, and other non-stop chatter. Even if you don’t consider yourself a nature lover, brief periods outdoors can give you a new sense of purpose. You gain a more positive outlook and your ability to handle stress will be greatly heightened. So, go ahead, spend a few moments outdoors, you deserve a few nature breaks to guard against future stress-related “breaking points.”