For quite some time, I have often talked with my clients about the benefits of nature and being outdoors for your mental health. Well, it appears, science and research teams agree with me!
I read an article recently that delved into the subject of nature and its effects on mental health, with the experience of “awe” being the number one reason why it’s so important.
If you want to read for yourself, here is the link below to this article:
In my old private practice years ago, before my SCC days, I used to take clients on walks by the water and next to the forest where my office was in Redmond. It had a huge impact. Now where I work in Bothell when it’s a nice day out, I will often take clients to the water fountains next to City Hall for their sessions.
Every time I hear the following after our session, “That was so refreshing, I needed that, I feel so much better, I really love being outside by the water and in the sun, while also getting help.” This is very common, and I personally know how much this helps as well.
I see my own counselor/mentor and we often take walks in the forest where her work is located and do sessions simultaneously. It has had a hugely positive impact on my life. I am also blessed in that my family and I live in an area where we have one acre of land, half of that is our yard and half of that is a forest.
I am surrounded daily by the following: bunnies, chipmunks, squirrels, birds, bees, dragonflies, butterflies, deer, bear, hummingbirds, coyotes, etc. It’s also because I made my husband build me an animal oasis . I love animals and it shows at our home.
Since our dog of 13 years, Kaleb, passed away this past February, I decided it was time to get bird feeders, make squirrel houses, and get hummingbird feeders and flowers that attract wildlife. It is working! I miss my dog, and in this way, I can celebrate him and enjoy God’s creatures right in my front or backyard.
But I have learned, it is much more than that. The feelings of awe, gratefulness, being inspired, watching the animals and being present in our forest or next to our flowers has had an amazing impact on our family’s happiness and well-being. It doesn’t just help me; it has helped my husband and daughter now as well.
We all look forward to seeing who “Chippy the chipmunk” (I affectionately named him this, he is quite feisty), has scared off today from his house with sunflower seeds in it. And we adore watching the bunnies eat grass or leaves in our yard and flower beds (as long as they keep out of my flowers, for the most part).
My daughter and I have sat many times on our front porch and watched the bees buzzing on our lavender plants, the birds eating out of our bird feeders and the bunnies chomping away in our grass. It is quite amazing, that we have this available to us, and that when we bought this house two years ago, God really knew what he was doing.
He knew the healing powers of the forest and animals and how it would not only impact my life, but my family’s as well. Because I love animals and nature so much, I am teaching my daughter the same love and respect and it is working! My husband has even come around and looks to see who is present on the feeders and in the homes, I asked him to build around our arbor in the backyard.
We are incredibly blessed, but for those who don’t have nature available to them in their yards, I encourage them to go out and find it! Many of my clients have listened and caught onto the notion that this is helpful for them.
I often hear, “I went to the park the other day and wrote in my journal like you told me too and it was amazing! I felt so much better afterwards.” I have encouraged my artistic clients to go paint or draw by the water at sunset, or when the sun is out. I am constantly encouraging clients to find their own therapy within themselves and the world around them.
Because when they are done seeing me, they will need “tools in their toolbelt” to help them live a healthier, happier life. By that I mean, their own self-care go-to’s that they can turn to in times of stress, anxiety, sadness, grief, etc.
I have my own list of self-care go to’s, and it has taken me a long time to realize that I need to do this for myself as well. After all, I can help everyone in the world, but at the end of the day, if I am not healthy and taking care of myself first, I am not really helping anyone, including myself.
God did not make this amazing Earth with animals, the forest, the water, and all of its splendor for no reason. I believe he wants us to embellish in and enjoy it for our well-being, which is why it is here! My Grandma used to have a saying in her bathroom when I was little and it said the following: “Take time along the way, to stop and smell the roses.”
I now understand what that means, but back then, I had no idea. I just loved the wording and the roses on the glass picture. I even went so far as to look up some Bible quotes on nature and what God has to say about this whole thing. So, if your curious about this, here you go below:
But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. – Job 12:7-10
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. – Psalm 96:11-12
In his hands are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. – Psalm 95:4-5
The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands. – Psalm 19:1.
How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is vast sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number, living things both large and small. – Psalm 104:24-25
The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. – Psalm 33:5
I know there are many more Bible verses regarding this topic, but these are just a few that I wanted to share with whoever is reading this, to let you know that nature is not supposed to be a secret. God made it for a reason, for us to heal, take care of, and enjoy alongside his creation of animals and plants, trees, water, all of it!
If you are curious more about this topic, please make an appointment to come and see me. I am happy to discuss this, among other skills and avenues that I know will benefit your mental health in positive ways. God bless and be kind to the animals and the earth, they are here for you and me to love and learn from!
“Dog”, Courtesy of ToNic-Pics, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Squirrel”, Courtesy of LuidmilaKot, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Large Cabbage White Ling Pieris”, Courtesy of Pezibear, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “European Rabbits”, Courtesy of Skeeze, Pixabay.com, CC0 License