There are a lot of unexpected or even unknown factors to healing that we may not know about when it comes to grounding ourselves and healing from burnout, trauma, and disappointment. Nature is one of the best elements of natural healing and while it cannot replace medication and therapy, it can bring a lot of added benefits to our health and healing journey. The body remembers our trauma and stress and it stores it in our nervous system, but tapping into nature can actually help us heal dramatically.
There is a lot more to nature that affects our healing than we realize. Ecopsychology is an approach to healing that involves immersive experiences in nature. Dr. Lisa Leit, Ph.D., MCC founder of Happy Whole Human (HWH), has designed her coaching program around the healing power of nature. Her coaching program is entirely evidence-based, scientifically proven, and validated. Neuroscience has already proven that time spent in nature positively affects brain chemistry and has great cleansing and meditative effects.
The connection between humans and the environment that surrounds us influences the way we think, feel, and act. This isn’t an excuse to act out in a stressful work environment, but a way to understand what we surround ourselves with makes a difference and we should be aware of what we are taking in. “It’s not just a fad to be aware of how nature affects us. This is real scientifically supported research and once you tap into that knowledge and practice, the results speak for themselves.” Dr. Leit explains.
Coexisting in nature
Transcendentalism is the belief that nature and people are inherently good. In the 1820s, philosophers, artists, and conservationists wrote articles, essays, and poetry on the importance of conserving nature. “Of course, the idea of nature and man being connected goes even further back in other cultures,” Dr. Leit clarifies. “No matter what you believe, most of us can all agree that nature is awe-inspiring, and we are a part of it. That’s why we feel a natural pull in the direction of freedom, and it feels unnatural to be at work or at home all the time. Dr. Leit describes, “We start to feel claustrophobic, anxious, and isolated. These undesirable feelings are a direct result of not allowing yourself the freedom to go outside and remember our true natures.”
Achieving balance in nature
Dr. Leit points out, “We’ve all heard of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Most of us know that studies show patients benefit from bright light therapy and that it is used to regulate circadian rhythms. This is just one example of how connected we are to nature and how we can suffer negative consequences when we are not in balance. My goal is to offer Happy Whole Human as a tool grounded in ecopsychology for my clients so that they can become the best version of themselves. We are connected with nature, and because of this, we are connected to each other. I believe the alienation we feel at work and even in our relationships is directly tied to our ego and self-esteem, which does serve a valuable function for our survival. That said, it’s not healthy to function in this constant state of separation. This separation causes us to lose touch with our best selves and to hang on to negative thoughts and behaviors that are not serving us. That’s why it is so important to reconnect to nature, ourselves, and each other. Once we do that, we start to have more patience for ourselves and others. We become more at peace with ourselves and others. We are in better alignment, and we can stop fighting against the current. The most important thing we can do for ourselves is to allow ourselves to go with the flow.”
The healing effects of nature
When you need time to reset and be refreshed, connecting with nature is a great place to start. Waves, streams, rainfall, sitting in the sun, going for an outdoor walk, or even having a park picnic under a big shady tree can take us to a place of calm and comfort. “The repetition of sounds like bird songs, crashing waves, or rustling trees can be incredibly therapeutic and hypnotic,” Dr. Leit says. “Studies have shown that negative ions from storms or waterfalls are rejuvenating and healing for the body. There are essential vitamins and minerals to pick up from outside that make a huge difference in how we feel.”
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