The Healing Power of Nature
If you had to give a dollar away every time you overworked or over-stressed yourself, how quickly would you run out of money?
Currently, the system of the world is designed in such a fashion that everything is capital-driven and requires sacrifice of self. This has led us to battle in a quest for materialism that has spoiled our ability to be constantly in touch with our emotions. We glorify ‘hustle culture’ while do our very best to nullify its adverse effects with the promise of wealth, we strive to stay purpose-driven but often forget that what keeps us passionate for our future is our need to satisfy our own potential which does not just come fro-m a few more dollar bills as an incentive but from within.
So, the question is what can we do to make sure that we do not lose our sanity and humanity in this world? One very simple solution is to completely dissolve ourselves into what the world offers at its best; nature.
How Nature Is a Possible Solution to Our Problem
Imagine walking barefoot on grass just before sunrise, dew drops on the mildly rough edges of the grass coupled with the uneven ground, making you conscious of every step you take. Imagine the sound of waves crashing against rocks on the beach, the salty flavor of the air and the breeze brushing past your face.
Nature has a very mysterious power of calming your nerves. It does not bombard your senses, but subtly surrounds you and encapsulates you in its grandeur; its onomatopoeia slowly changes its frequencies from the sound of quivering leaves to absolute silence where you can hear yourself breathe to the chirping of birds. We have to interact with nature, and find ways to do it even if we all live in a concrete jungle.
There are various ways in which nature can help you overcome mental and emotional uneasiness, from grounding to wilderness therapy to dark nature, there is something for everybody.
The grounding or earthing activities can help you relax by releasing chemicals that soothe your mind which reduce anxiety and stress. It can help relieve chronic pain as a result of inflammation, chronic fatigue, and, in addition, it can also reduce sleep disturbances to prevent sleeping disorders. Grounding activities include walking barefoot or lying on the ground to increase skin-to-earth contact, submerging yourself in water can also be helpful even though you are not physically in contact with the earth. If you are unable to go outside then you may resort to grounding mats, socks, bands, or sheets and blankets.
There are several mental health grounding techniques as well, for example the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. This is essentially for those who are trying to cope with anxiety. What you need to do here is focus your attention on:
5 things you can see
4 things you can feel
3 sounds you can hear
2 scents that you can smell, and
1 thing that you can taste in your immediate environment
This will slow down your heart rate and divert your mind enough for you not to let the anxiety intensify. Other mental grounding methods include the memory game and listening to music.
Forest bathing involves walking through the woods.. This process of relaxation is from Japan and is also known as shinrin yoku. The key factor of this method is to ensure that none of your devices are around, enabling you to properly devote your time and energy to this process.
In this, you should walk slowly and consciously regulate your breathing as you do so. You should attempt to make a mental note of nature's minute details as you observe what is around you. If anything around you fascinates you, stop. Stand still or sit down and figure out what intrigued you about it.
A study has shown that forest bathing stimulates the brain to release adrenaline which typically increases when you are excited but mostly when you are in danger. In the study, the levels of adrenaline were measured before and after forest bathing in all subjects and the results showed a stark decrease which means that the subjects came out of the woods feeling much more relaxed.
Exploring dark nature means stargazing. A small pilot study in 2014 suggested that stargazing like several daytime therapies helps you relax and calm your nerves. It also helps you bond with nature and make that connection stronger even though you’re looking at stars that are hundreds of thousands of light years away.
This activity, however, is difficult because only when there is pitch-blackness around you will you be able to see those stars shine in the sky which is next to impossible with city lights. However, in certain pockets in places like New Zealand and India the splendor of these gigantic celestial bodies can still be witnessed.
Even Atheists Should Concur
Finding peace and comfort in nature may be a foreign practice to Gen Z and millennials, but it has certainly been around for ages because religions such as Baha’i Faith, Confucianism, Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, and especially Hinduism have been propgating the gloriousness of nature and how we must respect it. An Indian historian, Kapila Vatsyanan, had said this about Hinduism and nature: “Man’s life depends upon and is conditioned by all that surrounds him and sustains him, namely, inanimate, mineral and animate, aquatic, vegetative, animal and gaseous life. It is, therefore, Man’s duty to constantly remind himself – in individual and collective life – of the environment and the ecology”
Climate change along with cognitive workload is bringing back what we should value the most. Richard Louv, a journalist in San Diego came up with the concept of ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’, he wrote about this in the book Last Child in the Woods which was published in 2005. He says that while he was writing this book, climate change was not a hot topic: “This subject was virtually ignored by the academic world. I could find sixty studies that were good studies. Now it is approaching and about to pass a thousand studies and all of them point in one direction: Nature is not only nice to have, but it is a have-to-have for physical health and cognitive functioning.”