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…And Breathe: Nature

…And Breathe: Nature

A mental-wellbeing column by counsellor, Kristen Bauer 

Photography by Stella Nicholls 

One of the most peaceful memories I have is standing on the shore of a beach in South Africa watching the waves come and go, the warm sun on the back of my neck and a fresh breeze coming off the ocean. This is a ‘go to’ memory if I ever need to “think of a happy place” or if I’m trying to calm my mind after a stressful day. 

I’ve always found that being out in nature has a way of calming the ‘whirring in my head’. Sometimes it feels like my brain is going at about a hundred miles an hour. Whether I’m thinking about what needs to be done or what I did during the day. Scrolling endlessly on social media – my brain being bombarded with information – can be exhausting! 

Isn’t it amazing, that when faced with the sheer beauty of nature, be it the thundering of the ocean waves or the rolling green of the countryside, it brings a sense of peace and joy? There is something mysterious and awe-inspiring about being in one of those vast landscapes.  It has the potential to help us forget about worries for a minute. 

Scientists are beginning to find evidence that being out in nature has a profound effect on our behaviour. It has been suggested that it can help reduce stress and anxiety, increase our attention capacity and creativity and help us to connect better with other people. (Read more here).

If I think back to the walks I took over lockdown, the most enjoyable of them were the ones through the country park. Upon reflection, it seems there was less to distract me there than on the hubbub of the main roads. We live in a very busy world that takes place in a very busy environment. Nature has a way of reminding us to slow down and gives us the space to do so. There is a beautiful quote by Mary Davis that says, “A walk in nature, walks the soul back home.” 

I wonder if you have a ‘go to’ place where you can find rest? We are so lucky to be surrounded by nature, here in the South West, be it the haunting beauty of the Moors, the tranquil coastline or the enchanting woodlands. I encourage you, today, to make an effort to get out into nature, even if it’s as simple as going to the local park. Let your mind switch off as you pay attention to the feeling of the breeze on your skin, witness the vast colour palette of the trees, grass and sky and listen to the birds as they sing their sweet song. 

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