Nature Is My Psychiatrist; My Form of Release

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What do you do for release when life gets tough? Sometimes, life can seem like it just gets in the way of you being able to enjoy it. Yes, it happens to me as well. It’s not always easy. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows. Nature can help.

We all have those tough moments that seem to stretch your patience, grab a hold of your feelings with the grip of a grizzly, and really test your ability to cope with the giant, dark storms that life can throw at you at any moment. This is just part of being human, and it’s how we subsist and manage during these times that define us.

It’s during times like these that I turn to nature and take an opportunity to just step away from the situation. Nature helps me to release the pressures that are weighing me down and allows me time to breathe and put things in perspective. Nature is my psychiatrist or therapist, so to say, and nature therapy does wonders for me.

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There’s something strange about the woods that calms my soul and soothes any pains that are ailing me. When I step foot onto a dirt or stone path surrounded by trees, nothing but the serene sounds of the wildlife inhabiting the area, I notice my shoulders drop, my breathing slows to a manageable pace, my spirit lifts, and my issues begin to fade. My senses heighten and become much more noticeable to myself, down to the feeling of each individual breath, the sounds of everything around me and which direction it is coming from. All kinds of smells become more intense, and I can feel the breeze along every inch of whatever skin may be exposed. Sometimes, it feels like my eyesight gets clearer, and colors become bolder and more intense.

Hiking truly refreshes me from top to bottom, inside and out and all around. It allows me to focus on one thought at a time, instead of having every thought, issue, and task scrambling around in my head all at the same time, each one fighting for the spot on the top of the list. There are no distractions when I’m on a hike, and I can take my time to sort through what I need and resolve any unresolved problems that may have come across my plate.

Hiking has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and improve mental health. I wrote about the benefits of hiking in my post, Oh, Go Take A Hike, Would Ya’? Click here to read the article. These are just two of the benefits a good romp in the woods can provide.

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I sometimes wish that I had more time and more opportunities to do longer solo adventures such as overnight backpacking trips or camping adventures. I have quite the bucket list. The crazy thing is that sometimes I feel that I’m neglecting my duties as a father and husband when I solo hike. I hope my wife and kids understand that sometimes I need a little bit of time alone with my thoughts to reset and recharge.

I just read an article recently on one of my favorite blogs, Potty Adventures, called Selfish Husband Syndrome – Balancing Solo Adventures and Family Experiences. I can truly relate to this article in many ways; age, family status, etc. I wished I had a close group of friends like he does, who would go out on backpacking trips and adventures, as this is why I stick to day-hikes when I’m not adventuring with my family.

It can be tough sometimes to get out there by myself when I need to recharge my batteries. Especially when I know how much effort my wife puts into being a stay-at-home Mom for our amazing kids while finding the time for a couple of gigs of her own to bring in some bacon. She is such an amazing woman and doesn’t get enough credit for what she really does and what she really means to me and our family. She is definitely Super-Mom in my eyes, and I hope she knows that. I don’t know what I would do without her.

That being said, I hope she doesn’t ever think that I am trying to neglect my duties or leave her holding the bag with the kids and the dog whenever I need to get out on a solo hike. I also hope that she gets enough of her own solo time to unwind and recharge herself. For her, I think it’s shopping where she finds her release.

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I’m curious…what do you do for release from life’s heavy moments and overwhelming pressures? Do you have a go-to place or go-to activity that you would like to share? I look forward to hearing your comments below.

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