Last May I took a family adventure to Edinburgh. We travelled from our home in Nottingham, up through the North East of England into Northumberland and over the border into Scotland. We stayed over night in a farm house in the north east to break up the journey, and had a rather joyful experience with a true fan of the British Monarchy -which I will blog about at a future point.
The break had come at a good time, life was full of commitments which I had chosen and was passionate about. Family life with three children was fairly hectic but just about manageable. I didn’t realise how much I was carrying really, until I stepped out of the routine for a while. The farm house we were staying at was on a country lane and we could see a small wood not to far away which we wanted to explore. Our hosts explained that it was their wood - imagine owning your own wood, that’s one for the bucket list - and we were welcome to go and have an explore.
Forests are my favourite places, I find them very restful. The soothing dampness and shadow, the light filtering through the leaves, the gentle spring (or squelch, I do live in Britain after all) of the forest floor under my feet. It’s easy to hide away in a forest, to feel protected from critical eyes.
I have recently been reading about Japanese forest-bathing, Shirin-Yoku. Which involves walking through forests, resting and meditation, and eating healthy food amongst other things. For me, it starts with the light amongst the trees, It’s like an eye bath. I remembered in the forest that how my eyes feel can help me connect with my emotions. It’s like a quick mental health check tied in with your physical body. As my eyes were soothed I was aware of how tired and tight they had been feeling.
All my senses are engaged when I walk in the forest, the gentle smell of wet woodland, the subdued sounds of nature around me, I become more aware of how my body is moving as I negotiate the changing camber of my surroundings, I have to slow down to think about where I am putting my feet. I have to focus where I am for a while. I find that this pulls me down from my head away from plans and worries and holds me in the moment I am actually physically in. Away from future tripping, or regrets from the past and into the present.
We reluctantly headed out of the copse, and continued our journey north to Edinburgh, past rolling green fields, breathtaking valleys, and all the green my eyes could take in, and it was all good. Greenification for the brain. I help out at a local community garden, and it has a similar effect, it’s a chaotic muddy little spot, I often turn up there with a million other things I’d rather be doing. But find by the end of my session there, I have put those other things down for a while without even realising, and have a little bit of energy to go back to life outside the garden.
Being in nature finding a place you find restful is always worth a go if you are struggling with any mental health issues. Being outside even if its just for a short period of time can begin to make a difference for you. Give it a whirl, I’d love to hear how you get on, contact me via the comments below.
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