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The Healing Power of Nature by Madison Shirley

Grief manifests in many different ways and places for each individual. Emotional displays of grief might include numbness, intense sorrow, and detachment. Physical symptoms can range from headaches, chest pain, or sore muscles. A holistic way to help navigate the grief journey is to spend time in nature. At EricsHouse we aim to provide tools that can help you grow through your grief. 

C.S. Lewis has a beautiful quote that states: “Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.” Allow this to serve as a metaphor for one’s sumit through grief. Grief might feel like climbing the highest mountain, enduring the most harsh conditions, or reaching a peak only to find out there is another climb waiting on the other side. But as the quote says behind any bend there may be a totally different landscape. With every valley there is a peak. 

How can enjoying time in nature promote healing and peace? To start, nature expects nothing from us. Oftentimes life demands our attention in multiple ways. We are required to wear many hats, in many settings. Whether it is within our family, work environment, the goal of remaining active, or setting time aside to heal we are expected to balance quite a lot. Nature does not have any questions. It raises no concerns. No requests are demanded. We can simply sit and be still. Pick a spot to connect with nature. Maybe a bench by a serene lake or a blanket on a patch of grass is your chosen peace pocket.

Several studies have found that there is a connection between increased emotional plus physical health associated with being outdoors. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science conducted a study that concluded: Participants who went on a 90-min walk through a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and showed reduced neural activity in an area of the brain linked to risk for mental illness compared with those who walked through an urban environment.” 

The study explained the participants’ heart and respiration rates were measured before and after taking a walk outside. Being outdoors helped stabilize both levels to increase peace and diminish anxiety. With that being said, if you live in an urban environment it might be tricky to find a natural setting. I encourage you to utilize any park or community garden within your reach.

Nature is a tool to tap into wonder. The rolling waves of the shimmering blue ocean, the soaring heights of sturdy mountains, and the lush colorful fields of flowers provoke a sense of amazement. After loss you might have a hard time experiencing joy or brightness. May the colorful and spirited elements of nature serve as a reminder of the beauty in the world. 

Some find it hard and triggering to talk about their loss and might isolate themselves. Grief is a personal journey but it is not one you must walk all alone. While nature can be the perfect place to spend time in solitude, it can also be a social setting. Reach out to one of your closest family members or friends and invite them for a hike or a picnic. They might be able to offer you some much needed support.

In conclusion, nature figuratively and literally can serve as a representation of one’s personal grief journey.  John Muir perfectly encompasses the overall message of this article with the following quote: In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”