Column: Connect with nature in times of stress | Chroniclers


The last few days have been wonderful, which is especially wonderful after the smoke in August and September. There is joy in breathing this pure air and seeing the mountains again silhouetted against the blue sky.

This brings me to the connection we have with nature and the connection within us between our body and our mind. We are part of nature and the way we approach this connection has a profound effect on our well-being.

Jane Brody explored the mind-body connection in a New York Times opinion piece. She highlighted the devastating impact that a critical medical diagnosis can have on our minds. The link between stress of all kinds and anxiety and depression is well documented.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week that depression and anxiety have increased with our pandemic and the stress it has placed on people. These conditions can cause physical ailments, make us more susceptible to physical ailments, or worsen ailments we already have. Our bodies release substances in response to stress of all types. These help us cope and are essential for our survival, but the consequences of long-term stress will overload our systems.

This is all the more true as we are faced with real diseases (the pandemic) and environmental stressors (smoke, heat, floods, drought) and societal stressors (the unstable nature of our political environment. ). Many of us suffer from depression and anxiety which cripple our ability to take joy in our lives. Many of us have faced illness and death which increase our levels of anxiety and depression.

I have written about the importance of counseling and strategizing to cope with these challenges. I cannot stress enough the importance of this. Additionally, there are some things you can try.

1. Live in the present, you cannot change what has happened.

2. Notice your surroundings: the sky, a flower, birds, your children / grandchildren.

3. Breathe and be aware of the magic in your life.

4. Remember that nothing stays the same, that things change and that is okay.

5. Reach out to those in your life who you can talk to who are positive and supportive.

6. Take a nature walk.

I’m not minimizing the very real issues we all face, life is tough. It has been said that life is not for the faint of heart. By embracing the connections we have within ourselves, with others, and with nature, we can take steps to step out of the “worry world” and cherish each day.

Judy McDowell is a nurse practitioner at Sheridan Health Center.


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