Do you ever find it hard to breathe?
Have you noticed your palms sweating, your thoughts racing, or your heart pounding?
Are you feeling fearful but you can't quite figure out why?
These are common experiences when we feel anxious. Anxiety can feel incredibly overwhelming and downright scary at times. Sometimes anxiety can be so intense that we fear physical damage to our bodies. Luckily, there are ways we can help ourselves move through these terrifying emotions.
Being in nature can be a great way to calm the mind and body and alleviate feelings of anxiety.
1) Nature brings you into the present moment.
The outdoors offers an amazing opportunity to practice being mindful of that which is around you; thereby diverting your attention from the discomfort you are feeling to the present moment. Pay attention to the colors of the flowers, the sounds of chirping birds, and the rush of the wind against your skin. Notice the sensation of the grass on the soles of your feet with every step you take. Getting out in nature regularly will serve to keep you grounded day-to-day and move through moments of distress in a healthy way.
2) The sounds of wind & water help to reset your breath.
When we feel anxious, we may notice ourselves taking short and labored breaths. We may have difficulty catching our breath and in extreme cases, may even hyperventilate. Rather than breathing deep, down in our bellies (which is the best way to breathe as it fills our lungs completely to oxygenate our blood), we may be breathing up in our shoulders. This is a very shallow way of breathing that does our bodies more harm than good. Listening to slow-moving sounds of the water or wind can help to re-focus our breath: focusing on these sounds can slow down our breathing and our thought processes. Calming the breath relaxes our bodies, reduces physical tension, slows our heartrate, and allows our body time to heal and re-charge.
3) Vitamin D improves our mood & revitalizes our bodies
Feelings of depression and anxiety often go hand-in-hand. Sunlight can do wonders to help alleviate these feelings and improve our overall mental well-being. Notice what you experience the next time you step outside to soak up some rays. Improved mood and feelings of relaxation are only a few of the things you might notice! You may also experience improved energy levels and slowed breathing patterns. So get out there and enjoy the sun! Just don't forget your sunscreen :)
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Licensed counselor, outdoor enthusiast, yoga lover and passionate about wellness.