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Nature's Cure: Getting better by going outside

Updated on August 10, 2016

Let me start by saying, I am not a doctor. Before beginning any do-it-yourself treatments, you should talk with your doctor to ensure that you are physically and mentally equipped to do so.

I suffered a heartbreaking occurrence in my life several years ago. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. I couldn't function at my job. My weight plummeted and my anxiety skyrocketed. I felt like I couldn't go on. I didn't want to leave my bed but being in my bed crying incessantly didn't alleviate the pain either. I needed to do something.

I considered asking my doctor to prescribe an antidepressant to help me cope with the crushing pain I was feeling. I needed something, anything to dull the hurt. But instead of calling my doctor, I went for a walk in the woods.

I was all alone in the forest yet I was surrounded by beauty, peace and serenity. For the first time in a long time, I felt semi-normal. I decided that this would be my therapy.

I visited the same area daily. At first, I walked the trails that meandered along a stream. Sometimes I would listen to music and other times, I would relish in the sounds that this gorgeous area offered. Some days I would find the perfect spot and just sit. Other days, I would run the wide, flat, main trail. It was those days that I found my new love; running.

My first run was far from impressive. I would run thirty or so seconds before I couldn't breathe and felt the need to stop. I didn't give up. I was determined to run an entire mile without stopping.

Day after day, I returned to run just a little bit farther than the day before. I was so preoccupied with this goal I had set for myself that I was slowly forgetting just how broken my heart was. My heart was so busy pumping furiously along with my arms and legs that it forgot it was hurting. my brain was so full of endorphins that it forgot to overthink where I had gone wrong in life.

Then the day came that I reached my goal. I had run an entire mile without stopping! It was a slow mile at around 14 minutes. But it was MY mile. I set my overanalyzing mind to something other than the mess that was my life and accomplished something amazing. I felt fabulous! I was so proud of myself and knew right there that I had overcome my depression. I knew then that I could do anything that I set my mind to; including not feel sorry for myself over something I couldn't control.

That was years ago. And still, when something happens in my life that is stressful, hurtful or invokes anger, I go to the woods. In fact, I moved so I could be closer to my 'therapist.' My therapy is literally in my backyard.

When you feel overwhelmed with life, get outside. Whether it be surrounded by trees, near a body of water, or even a walk down a busy, city sidewalk. Get some air and clear your head.

According to psychcentral.com, it is scientific fact that regular exercise can help to alleviate the symptoms of depression. But it doesn't have to be something so intense as running.

Gardening, walking, washing your car and riding a bicycle are all great examples of how you can get up and get moving.

Getting your blood flowing increases oxygen to the brain and, as I said above, releases endorphins, which are naturally occurring 'feel-good' chemicals.

Studies have shown that exercising for 35 minutes per day, 6 days a week can be equally as effective as a prescription antidepressant.

And as an added bonus..no nasty side effects! Antidepressants have been known to cause: nausea, loss of sexual desire, fatigue, insomnia, dry mouth, constipation among other things.

Exercise causes: feeling a sense of accomplishment, getting into shape, boosts in self esteem, confidence, etc..





In closing, I strongly encourage you to get out and get moving. It may seem like an impossible task. You may feel like you are carrying a ridiculous amount of weight. You may feel so physically exhausted that the thought of moving makes you even more tired. Get up anyway. Call a friend or family member and ask them to join you if that will help you to get motivated. You will thank yourself for it.

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