The power of nature by Gem Rose
I have a wooden sign hanging in my hallway that says “A little sand between the toes always takes away the woes.”
My husband disagrees, the feeling of sand on his feet makes him cringe, but for me it is really true. My life has been turned upside down over the last 14 months with all the lockdowns and restrictions etc. And while Dave (my long suffering hubby) has done an excellent job of keeping me just-on-the-right-side-of-sane at evenings and weekends, the ONLY thing that has really helped while he’s been at work during the day, has been getting down to the beach and letting that sand work it’s magic.
For the first few weeks I didn’t venture out of the house at all, despite living a minute’s walk from the beach. I wasn’t scared of catching anything, but the situation – losing my freedom, my career, my social life, and any sense of stability or normality – had hit me hard mentally. I didn’t want to be reminded of the world I was no longer allowed to exist in. Dave would come home from work most days (ok every day) to a whimpering mess of fleecey pyjamas and empty biscuit packets. He’d ask with concern “What have you done today?” To which my reply was always “Nothing.”
Eventually one Sunday morning, he coaxed me into putting on actual ‘people clothes’ and trotted me down to the beach. It was absolutely the best thing he could’ve done. My spirit lifted. We walked down to the sea. I took off my shoes, and we bumbled along for a good hour or so. I splashed my feet in and out of the water.
Since then, we’ve spent almost every weekend walking along the prom or out in the New Forest. I jog at the beach most days. There is something about being at the sea or in the forest, that almost makes me feel like life is paused for a bit, in a really good way. When I’m out in nature there are no phones, no clocks, no deadlines or time restrictions, no news reports. No ‘wash your hands, don’t touch anything, don’t stand too close to anyone’ – no stress.
It’s like being in another world for those few hours / minutes, where there is just peace, and air, and the sound of leaves crunching or waves crashing.
The power of nature
I’ve recently dabbled in two nature-themed techniques which are thought to have great mental & physical health benefits; grounding, and cold water therapy. The idea behind grounding (also called earthing) is that electrical charges from the earth can have a positive effect on your body. I have to say, I have no idea if the science on this is sound or not, but I know for sure that when I took my shoes and socks off in the forest Easter weekend and danced & skipped around on the grass for half an hour, I felt like I’d gone back in time 30 years to being a carefree child, bimbling around with no concept of responsibilities, traffic, emails etc, just me and the earth under my feet and the fresh air in my lungs (and my husband taking embarrassing photos of me dancing around..).
Similarly, after my first attempt at cold water immersion, I felt what I could only describe as elation. Actually dunking myself in the cold sea didn’t feel particularly pleasant at the time if I’m honest. And it was a little embarrassing encountering an old lady who was doing the same thing far more bravely in just a swimming costume. I was wrapped almost head to toe in neoprene – wetsuit, wetsuit socks, wetsuit gloves etc. But I soon felt those endorphins kick in, and I felt truly incredible afterwards.
There’s a picture I’ve seen online which shows the similarities between a human fingerprint / inside of a tree stump, branches on a tree / branches of bronchi inside our lungs, human veins / veins on a leaf etc, and I don’t think any of that is a mistake. Whatever we believe about how life on earth came to be, I think we can all agree we are deeply connected to nature, we are part of it, and it is part of us.
I’d advise anyone who is struggling with stress or feeling low to get out there. Let nature take you back to basics. Just breathe. Hear the wind, see the colours, feel the ground, and just be.
Our guest blogger:
Huge thanks to our blogger this week Gem Rose for her brilliant blog. Have any of you tried the techniques Gem describes to harness the power of nature? Please let us know.
Find out more about Gem and her amazing mental health choir ‘Relight my Choir,’ via the links.