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Friendship and Nature For Stress Relief

Updated on March 30, 2013

Do you turn to nature when life challenges you?

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Life, as we all know, is unpredictable and sometimes the challenges come at us so fast that it makes our heads spin. It's been that way for me recently. Over the past few months, I've been laid off, faced challenges with my aging parents, and lost a few friends to cancer. And there is winter. It's not my favorite season even though I live in an area that gets relatively few winter storms. I just prefer warm weather to cold.

Nature has always been my refuge during those times when life gets a little crazy. A few hours spent outside, away from the buzz of cars and crowds, is my answer for relieving stress. In nature I find reminders of the simple things that really matter. The love of family and friends rises to the top of my gratitude list when I escape the madness of the city and spend some quiet, reflective moments surrounded by the beauty of nature. In the absence of honking horns, sirens, and the buzzing of collective voices, I find my center again and, the courage to face the next day with hopeful expectation.

The Blessing of Good Friends

I am blessed to have amazing friends who are always there when I need them. Friends who accept you, as imperfect as you are are, are one of life's treasures. Real friends do that. They give you permission to be vulnerable and let your guard down. They will also stand by and let you figure things out for yourself but they stand close enough to steady you before you fall.


When the challenges of life start to turn into stress, I turn to the two things I can count on to return me to a sense of peace - friends and nature.

A Personal Story of Friendship and Nature

It was an overcast morning here in the city and The Weather Channel was calling for daytime temperatures in the mid 90's with humidity levels reaching 98%. That's tough here on the east coast. It's too tough to pound the pavement looking for work so I called a friend who has a place up in the mountains alongside a creek. "Please, can we go to the creek"? I asked. I only had to ask once. An hour later, we were on the road. That, is friendship.

The cabin is only a couple hours from here but the further we drove, the more dismal the sky began to look. Storm clouds threatened to ruin any thoughts I had of sinking my toes in the mud. I began to think that going to the creek today may not have been such a great idea.

Arriving at the creek

I'm here, many miles away from the noise of the city. There is no phone to ring, no television to bring me bad news, no computer to remind me to submit another resume. Should I feel guilty for running away like this today? No, I just won't do it. I need this.

My friend knows I need this and quickly finds things to do that will take him out of my sight and out of my space. That, is a friend.

The cabin sits back off the road about 300 feet. It is a county road, not well maintained since most of the cabins in the area belong to absentee owners. The creek is another 20 feet away on the other side of the road but you can hear it, if you stand still and listen. I take a few minutes to just stand quietly, taking in the sounds and smells and letting the city stress fall away. This is good.

Tranquility
Tranquility

The Physical Changes of Stress Relief

The rhythm of my breathing has slowed. I am aware of it. The mountain air is warm and quite humid but there is a slight breeze and it washes over me, stripping away the layers of emotions that had begun to tie me up in invisible knots. The creek is singing her own song as she slowly moves around the stones and through the roots of creek bank trees. Today the birds are more quiet than normal but not the crickets. The cricket telegraph loudly proclaims "there is a visitor among us".

Suddenly I am aware that I have not moved. I have been standing alone in front of the cabin, lost in the moment for quite a while. My friend has vanished inside to do some busy work and I am touched by his willingness to drop everything to make this trip and to give me the space I need. I can sense the transformation that is taking place inside me. I am quiet inside and balanced again. Gone are the kaleidoscope-like fragments of anxiety, fear, frustration, and yes, even self pity. After only 20 minutes alone in the middle of almost nowhere, I am whole again. It's time to put these feet in that creek!

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, "This is what it is to be happy.” - Sylvia Plath

The Healing Power of Nature

Sitting with my feet in the creek, I dig my toes into the cool mud. It is something I learned to love as a child and it has remained with me all these years. My inner voice is whispering to me, demanding that I acknowledge the feeling of joy that has come with being here. I know with certainty that I have found my center again.

It isn't long before my friend joins me down at the creek. We talk quietly about my needing this trip. My friend admits he takes this beautiful place for granted and rarely stops to just enjoy it anymore. There is always work to be done it seems. But I am awed by the changes I have experienced being here, being still, and being in the moment. It is one of those special moments, shared with a friend, and a magical moment. We have both learned something from this wild and natural place. There is indeed magic and healing power in nature when it is shared with a friend who understands and accepts that you are not perfect; doesn't expect you to be. But this day is perfect.

So it is time to head home and I am ready to face the challenges again. My needs have been filled and I am once again full of hope. I am emotionally, physically, and spiritually whole again. As I turn to leave the bank of the creek, I notice a tree whose trunk is covered by ivy. The image speaks to me. In a dimension beyond my visual ability, the ivy is tugging and pulling at the bark of that tree, reaching for heights it is unsure of. And yet, it appears perfectly still. It seems to whisper to me that... sometimes in the stillness - we reach our greatest heights.

© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.

Read more of my hubs here.

My Favorite Quotes About Friendship and Nature


"A friend is someone who is there for you when he'd rather be anywhere else." - Len Wein



A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down. - Arnold H. Glasow


“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature -- the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” - Rachel Carson,


“I always felt that the great high privilege, relief and comfort of friendship was that one had to explain nothing.” - Katherine Mansfield



“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.” - John Lubbock

Comments

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  • profile image

    ignugent17 4 years ago

    Your hub is very serene and I admire your love for nature. Thanks for sharing. Very beautiful.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thank you so much ignugent17. I appreciate your comments and your fanmail too. Nature is my drug sometimes. I slept like a baby that night. lol

  • juneaukid profile image

    Richard Francis Fleck 4 years ago from Denver, Colorado

    I enjoyed the peacefulness of Nature in this hub!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thank you juneaukid. I am glad you enjoyed it and appreciate you taking time to read it and leave a comment. People like you are my inspiration to write.

  • John Hopper profile image

    John Hopper 4 years ago from Australia

    Beautifully put. Relationships are the most rewarding aspect of being alive - our relationships with others and with the natural world that is our ground and wellspring - these are the foundation of our being from which all else springs, including sending out resumes! Good luck with your work search.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    What a beautiful piece of writing. I am very glad that we are now followers...you speak my language! Great job!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thank you sooooo much Billybuc. Your compliment means the world to me. I am one of those "from the heart" writers. If I don't feel it, I can't write about it. It is sometimes a curse. Thankfully, I am passionate about many things. I too am glad we have become followers and really appreciate you taking the time to read my hubs. I extend a sincere invitation for you to critique anything you read. It helps me grow. Again, sincere thanks!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    John Hopper - I appreciate your kind words so very much. Thank you for reading my hub and for becoming a follower. I have encountered the most amazing people here on hubpages. I will look forward to learning from you. Thank you for visiting.

  • profile image

    UrsulaRose 4 years ago

    From one fellow nature-lover to another ... I am so glad that you followed me as I would very much like to follow you if this hub of yours is anything to go by. It is a pleasure to make a connection with you. :-)

    Voted up with all the trimmings for such a beautifully written hub about the best healer of all ... Mother Nature.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thank you so much ursulaRose. There is so much to learn from the natural world and I believe that it has the power to cure anything. I am so glad that you enjoyed this hub. The topics of my hubs vary but I must admit, this is my favorite subject of all. I look forward to our hub friendship. And, thanks for the trimmings too!

  • Jools99 profile image

    Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK

    Linda, really enjoyed this article. Today here is North East England it is bucketing with heavy rain and very chilly. I could quite easily have turned over when my alarm went off at 6.15 this morning but I didn't - I went out walking as normal, waterproof clothes on, hat and gloves (which I had to wring out when I got back inside!) and stout boots and I was off - I was nodding away when I read your description of the 'feeling' you got when you began to shoulder off the feelings of stress and strain when out beside the cabin - isn't it amazing how quickly those feelings of stress and strain dissipate? My walk is kind of a scaled down version but it still de-stresses - wonderful!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 3 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Jools99. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one and it is apparent to me that you are connected to nature, as am I. I find that rain is healing in it's own right and have often felt that it washes away so much of the negative influences. As you described your walk in the chilly, wet, early hour, I felt as if I had accompanied you. Thanks for sharing your walk with me.

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