Don’t Overlook Nature To Ease Anxiety And Depression

Woman outside using nature to ease her anxiety and depression.

Back in March, when old man winter was stubbornly refusing to leave, I wrote a blog about dealing with “the winter blues.” And now that spring has finally sprung, I’m a little curious. Did “the blues” fade away, or are you perplexed to find they still hang on? Or maybe, feeling blue was never your issue. Perhaps you lean the other way and deal with feeling stressed out, anxious, and overwhelmed. Either way, I have something you might find interesting. And that is, spending time in nature has been found to help with anxiety and depression.

Indoor generation

Let me ask you a question. How much time do you spend outdoors? If you are like most adults, it’s often limited. However, according to researchers, you might be surprised to know that the average American spends as much as 90% of their life indoors.

People don’t realize just how much time they spend indoors. With modern technology, we can work from home, shop online, do our walking on a treadmill in front of a tv, and communicate with our friends. I mean, good grief, you don’t even have to leave your house to get groceries nowadays.

Get Outside

So, with that being said. Let’s say you are dealing with anxiety or depression. What can you do about it? Here’s where spending time in nature comes into play. I want to introduce you to a term you probably haven’t heard before. And that is “Ecotherapy.” 

Have you ever heard the term “Ecotherapy?” It actually goes by a couple of different names but boiled down; it basically means — contact with nature. So it is a name given to a wide range of treatment programs that aim to improve your mental and physical wellbeing through outdoor activities in nature. And here’s the best part — you don’t have to pay for it, it’s free! And you can access it anytime! 

Feel Better

Ecotherapy can make a significant difference in how you feel. For example, it can help you feel more grounded, provide an alternative perspective on life, and allow your mind and body to relax. It can:

  • lessen feelings of anxiety and stress
  • reduce depression
  • decrease anger
  • improve your mood and self-esteem
  • increase your emotional resilience

One technique called “green space therapy” or “green time” involves spending time in areas with grass and trees, such as a park, yard, soccer field, or farm. Outdoor activities could include walking, backpacking, gardening, playing games, sports, or even tackling a backyard project.

I have even found that taking my work outside sometimes can make a big difference. I can sit at a desk or table and look out the window and see nature all around, but when I go outside, I can feel nature. 

And somehow, it can lift my mood. Especially now that spring has popped, being in the yard or park watching the squirrels chase each other, hearing the birds chirp, and watching the bees and butterflies flit from flower to flower,  somehow makes me feel more peaceful and contented inside. 

And who can deny the calming effects of listening to the wind rustling through the trees? Or burying your toes in warm beach sand and listening to the waves breaking on the shore? (I know, there’s a sappy song in there somewhere!)

Nurture Yourself Through Nature

Depression can make you feel like you are in a dark place. And I don’t want to make light of it and imply that just going outside will take it away. However, what can it hurt to try and maybe help yourself in the midst of it? Someone expressed using ecotherapy this way, “I do ecotherapy to get sunlight onto my skin and into my mind. It shines light through the dark fog of depression.”

I thought that was awesome! It’s like the solar lights that you put in your yard, and all day, it soaks in the sunshine (to power up) and then takes that energy to shine through the darkness of night.

A study done by researchers at the University of Essex found that, of a group of people suffering from depression, 90 percent felt a higher level of self-esteem after a walk through a park in the country, and almost three-quarters felt less depressed. Another survey by the same research team found that 94% of people with mental illnesses believed that contact with nature put them in a more positive mood.

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature-the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” — Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

I encourage you to discover (or rediscover) the therapeutic effect nature offers. Exercising, playing, working, gardening, backyard projects, swimming, etc. In truth, the opportunities are endless out there. You just have to open the door and walk through it.

Working with a coach is an excellent way to learn and develop coping skills to help manage unhealthy emotions. Therefore, I’d love to hear from you if you suspect those emotions are hindering your success personally or even in the workplace.

Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. So I invite you to contact me or schedule your phone call today. And until we meet, if you’re able, step out into nature to energize your mind and body.

This article originally appeared on Counseling Solutions Of West Michigan.

The 10 Best Calming Exercises For Anxiety

Woman sipping herbal tea as a calming exercise for anxiety.

Anxiety is something that everyone from time to time experiences because it’s a natural stress response.  But when you have too much anxiety, it can get in the way of living a healthy and happy life. And believe me, as someone with anxiety, I know how overwhelming it can be at times. But that’s why I’m so grateful that I have learned how to manage my anxiety over the years — not eliminate it, but manage it. But, of course, everyone’s situation is different. Still, I would like to share some simple calming exercises for anxiety that can help manage your stress. And help you regain control over your thoughts instead of letting anxiety have the upper hand in your life. 

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#1 Tip For Finding Your Best Remedy For Anxiety

Anxious looking woman looking at her reflection and wondering what is the best remedy for anxiety

You might ask, what is the best remedy for anxiety? Well, the short answer is there is no “best” remedy for anxiety relief. Or I should say, there isn’t one best anxiety relief that fits all people. However, don’t quit reading or despair because my number one tip on finding your best remedy for anxiety is that there’s a whole host of strategies for you to try. You just have to find the best remedy that works for you.

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5 Techniques That Provide You With Immediate Anxiety Relief

Anxious young women looking for immediate anxiety relief.

Living with anxiety is easy—said no one, EVER! Okay, it might not be easy. However, you’ll be pleased to hear that while you can’t exactly get rid of anxiety, you can learn how to manage it. So when your anxiety is triggered and the uncomfortable physical symptoms like racing thoughts, nervousness, and pounding heart begin to start, know that there are helpful anxiety-reducing techniques that can bring you immediate anxiety relief. 

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Six Steps To Challenge The Voice Of Self-Criticism That Feeds Anxiety

Upset ethnic woman dealing with self-criticism and anxiety.

If you were to wake up tomorrow morning knowing you had to face a big bully no matter where you went, how would you handle it? Would you anxiously worry and fret about what the bully would do or say to make you feel awful? Or would you decide to shut the bully down? Now, what if I told you that bully was you. Let me explain. If you are relentlessly self-critical, you are essentially bullying yourself. In other words, you are the bully and the anxious victim. Yet, you probably have never thought about it in those terms. So, let me show you how self-criticism and anxiety feed off each other.

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8 Best Ways To Calm Anxiety When You’re Out And About

Anxious looking woman wearing a red shirt in a crowd wanting the best way to calm her anxiety.

With the world returning to normal slowly but surely, getting back in touch with  society is proving to be anxiety-provoking for some. And especially so for those who were already socially anxious before the pandemic. If that is you, the idea of returning to society can feel pretty intimidating and downright frightening. So if you’ve been looking for the best ways to calm anxiety, you’ve come to the right place.  

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9 Natural Stress And Anxiety Relief Tips That Really Work

Smiling woman outside playing with her dog which is one of the stress and anxiety relief tips

If you are like most people, you’ve probably succumbed (at least once) to an advertisement that was guaranteed to solve whatever issue you were dealing with at the time. And only for $19.99 to boot! Plus, if you ordered within the next ten minutes, you’d get two for the price of one—you know the spiel. Well, rest assured, I don’t have anything to sell. In fact, what I’m going to offer you today is free. And that is to share with you nine natural stress and anxiety relief tips that really work.

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How To Find The Best Anxiety Relief Methods For You

Women sitting in a cafe reading a book which is the best anxiety relief method that works for her.

I don’t know anyone who enjoys worrying and being anxious. But I’ve coached many who want to overcome it. My clients seem surprised when I tell them it’s a mental habit that can be broken—with a plan and some determination. That is, a plan to find the best anxiety relief methods that work for them and the determination to practice those methods until it becomes their new habit to manage their anxiety.

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