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A Look Back on Nature & Mental Health

Why can’t I seem to allow myself permission to simply just be? That was the question I left the first group session pondering. As I progress through school, try to navigate dating again, and cope with regular everyday stressors, I realize that when I attempt to relax feelings of guilt creep into my consciousness. I begin to think about all of the seemingly more important and productive things I “should” be doing and any attempt at stillness is lost. During the group I was prompted to go and find a spot in nature to sit and be still. I chose, what I initially thought, to be a poetic place. One that looked down on a trail. I had hoped it would make me think about adventure and reflect on my journey, instead I thought “Oh, the places I must go”. There it was again, the familiar anxiety of needing to do anything but what I was doing in the present moment. I reminded myself that this time was specifically allocated for me to just sit. That’s it. So instead of looking at the path of could be's and should be’s in front of me I turned my gaze upwards. I began to survey the canopy of leaves and clouds that swept by above them. I noticed acorns falling down through the foliage like nature's little plinko chips. A smile swept across my face, I felt childlike. Alone in the woods, knees tucked up to my chest, butt in the dirt, eyes to the sky, happy. The short amount of time, 10 minutes, that I spent simply enjoying the world around me, gave me more relaxation than any 90 minute massage I’ve ever gotten. When I walked back over to the group, I felt lighter, more present, s

ort of silly. It’s easy for me to get swept up in the day to day chaos, but what a necessary reminder that was. My outlook, stress level, and even posture can be softened in a mere 10 minutes if I just give myself permission to be.

Written by Lauren Calvert on her reflection of Week one of Nature Informed Mental Health and Wellbeing Course

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