I walked into a room filled with mental health professionals talking about the number of bug bites they had. I’m not sure exactly what I did, but it must have been something; an eye roll, a sigh of disgust, a shaking of the head…something. I only know that I responded in some non-verbal way because someone looked at me and said, “What?”
“What what?” I asked.
“You’re thinking something about all of this,” she responded.
So here’s the thing. Don’t ask me if you don’t want to know. I figured, She asked and we are in a room full of doctors and therapists who confront people for a living so here comes my opinion.
“I think people who count their bug bites are somatically preoccupied.”
Everyone laughed and then someone added, “Yeah, but you’re one of those nature people, Susan.”
So here’s the punch.
We are all nature people.
I can hear it now. “Not me. I hate being outside. I hate camping. I hate bugs. I hate the heat.”
Sorry. You are an organic being. Our bodies did not evolve in man-made, unnatural environments. Our bodies are supposed to work on natural cycles. Our circadian rhythms keep us, more or less, on a 24 hour cycle which should be informed by the rising and setting of the sun. Our lives have seasons of productivity and rest like the seasons of the year. The connections go on and on, except that we’ve broken that connection.
We live indoors in controlled temperature environments with artificial lights, computer and telephone screens and near-constant noise. We are bombarded.
For the vast amount of time that people have been walking around on the planet we have lived in nature and in sync with nature. We understood ourselves as part of the natural environment. But that’s not really how most of us live now. Now we have to “create” green spaces. Didn’t we used to live in green spaces and create structures?
There is a large body of emerging research about how our health is impacted by having contact with nature. It lowers blood pressure, improves immune functioning, decreases anxiety and depression. It’s so important and we’re so innately connected to nature that it turns out that even looking at pictures of nature improves outcomes.
Many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder, but spring is here! Right now it’s neither too hot nor too cold. So get out there. Take a walk in the park or a hike through the woods. Sit in the sunshine or in the cool breeze of the evening. Listen to the birds. Go for a swim or go paddling. But go. Nature is waiting to embrace and heal you this month.