As I write this fourth blog on anxiety as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, I am sat out in a field, surrounded by woodland, the last of the sunshine and a cacophony of bird song (I can also hear Friday traffic, but I'm tuning that out).
I can see bluebells, buttercups rushes, sedges, ferns, multiple different trees and hundreds of different bugs buzzing about in the air. There is a definite sense of spring, as the days lengthen, the plants burst into life and the smell of the earth intensifies as the days get warmer.
Yes I am particularly lucky to live in the countryside but it is also a conscious choice to be here to benefit my health and wellbeing.
Nature has a slowness to it that we, as people, have sometimes forgotten. There is very little anxiety in nature. Instead, there is a great deal of adaptability, resilience and creativity - and I admire nature for it.
And then I remember, we are nature too. Should we allow ourselves to slow down and be like the wildlife around us, we too can be adaptable resilient and creative.
My favourite ways to engage with nature is to quietly be in it without distraction. To listen to bird song is a meditation. To walk amongst plants is a moving mindfulness. To breath in the ocean or crisp mountain air is a reset button.
Both physically and mentally good for us, nature reminds us we exist beyond the dramas of living, and provide a quiet space for us to process our thoughts and feelings. I completely understand why people like to go fishing, hiking, mountain biking and camping - it is a chance to be at one with the natural world and offload the day/week/year.
Watching a sunrise, gardening, wild water swimming, golf, nature trails, going to the park, visiting the beach - even in cities oasis's of nature exist that we can connect to, to calm ourselves and be reminded we are part of something much bigger.
Ever hugged a tree? I recommend it! A go too strategy when I'm really finding life hard, it's a must to do just to know what it's like!
Don't wait until you are anxious to make nature a part of your life. You can pre-load yourself with positivity by having a regular appointment with nature.
Also, be sure to find ways to slow down to the pace of the nature around you. A mindless dog walk, listening to a podcast or being on a phone call is less beneficial than a mindful walk appreciating the plants and animals around you. If you find you need the distraction of a call or podcast to feel ok, find a therapist or coach to help you work through the difficult feelings you are trying to distract yourself from, so you can access all the therapeutic benefits nature has to offer.
And remember we offer natured-based sessions with our beautiful herd of horses to help slow down, process emotions and and address feelings of anxiety. They offer a little extra that a pure human: human interaction can't give. Many people report they find the herd calming and report improved mental health as a result. We'd be delighted to welcome you.