You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone living today that isn’t afflicted with depression or at least knows someone who is challenged with ongoing bouts of despondency. In fact, over 17 million Americans are plagued with this skulking condition to date, including myself. I’ve been plagued with bouts of extreme mood disorders all my life. You wouldn’t know that, because I don’t talk about my dark fugues. I’d much prefer to focus on the light, bright beautiful stuff. And that’s precisely how nature helps with depression because nature is replete with light and opportunities for joy.
How Nature is an Ally to Combat Depression
To further explain, the delights of nature have been my best source of healing, joy, and rejuvenation. I’ll spare you the drama of my diagnoses over the years. Suffice to say, when times are bleak, nature always backs me up.
In all honestly, sometimes the gloom is so suffocating during a dark spell, that any source of joy can jolt us back into vitality. These moments might be brief and fleeting. For example, a butterfly floating within my midst might seem trivial to some…but in the throes of despair, that moment is life-giving. And while my dogs aren’t wild wolves romping through a natural forest, they are indeed a part of nature and a constant source of solace.
The Roots of Life: The Real Reason Why Nature Helps With Depression
No matter what lineage, heritage, or nationality you claim…the fact remains that your ancestors understood how nature helps with depression, illness, and all matter of dysfunctions. To elaborate, our foremothers and forefathers relied 100% on the only thing they were sure about, and that was nature. The earth in her vast array of expressions was a constant source of inspiration, healing and insight.
Our native healers, wisdom-keepers, and shamans understood that all needs can be met through nature, including lightening the load of depression. From foraging for herbal remedies to meditating upon mother earth, nature is consistently generous in her remedies for dark moods.
Types of Depression and How Nature Can Help
Some types of depression are temporary, while others are chronic. The chronic kind of depression is the most challenging to navigate because it raises its ugly face without warning or reason. However, depression incurred in times of extreme grief or loss might be more manageable, as nature teaches us that all things change in time. Read further about how nature helps with depression in different kinds of situations.
Rain, Rain Go Away
It’s a well-known fact that weather has a huge impact on human behavior and emotional conditions. Golly, I remember living in NY and agonizing over month after month of grey, snowy days. But what got me down was also my champion to shove me out of depression. I started to dive more deeply into the benefits of weather, like focusing on the enchantments a winter landscape offered up to my perceptions. I also started to meditate upon how the so-called death of winter (or other unsavory spurts in various seasons) would eventually evolve into a surge of life in the spring. If you are sensitive to seasons and struggle with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), I can relate, and there is hope.
So, whether you’re burning to a crisp in the hot Texas sun or affected by monsoons in Asia, try to look for the silver linings nature offers. Attempt to see through the monotony, and realize that for every season you experience now, there is another season on its heels that will change your view and potentially life your SAD or weather-related depression.
I’ve been a mother to loads of fish, reptiles, birds, spiders, rats, cats, and even a bat. These days my motherhood is centered on three glorious dogs who consistently make my life meaningful and complete. All this to say, I have no human children. I really didn’t understand the perils of postpartum depression, at least, not until my sister struggled with it.
My sister brought two beautiful daughters into this world. I watched as she teetered between utter elation at giving birth and genuine misery wrought from hormonal imbalance. She sought postpartum depression treatment in addition to committing to righteous self-care.
Part of her recovery included hanging out with hummingbirds. My sister spent endless hours watching them and even made her own nectar to attract more. She later told me that those hummingbirds were an integral part of her therapy and ultimate recovery from postpartum depression. Just another example of how nature helps with depression in a myriad of ways.
The Grieving Heart
The loss of a loved one is an understandable trigger for depression. I know from experience the pain can be devastating. There is no combating depression that stems from losing a friend, family member, or beloved animal companion. The only thing that comes close to alleviating this type of dark melancholy is time. The shadow of loss never leaves our soul entirely, but time does tend to lessen the pain.
In moments of grief, nature helps with depression by reminding us of the circle of life. That sounds terribly cliché, and trite but it’s true. Nature elegantly demonstrates how all things change. Furthermore, nature shows us that nothing really dies, it only transforms. There is no end when physical life stops. So-called death is only a different version of life.
Consider the death of a tree in the forest. Its body decays. And within that decay, a whole host of critters live, love, feast, and build new lives. Nutrients from a fallen tree are absorbed into the soil, nourishing the roots of surrounding trees, grass, flowers. You get the idea. From death springs new life. This is important to remember when we experience the loss of a loved one. When they pass into non-physical, they are not gone – only transitioned. On a personal note, I know this because I’m a certified medium from the First Spiritualist Temple of East Aurora. I’ve seen proof of life after so-called death.
Furthermore, I’ve witnessed countless remarkable occurrences of transitioned loved ones connecting with those still living on earth. They often do this through nature. A few examples of natural signs of life after death include: Finding feathers on your path, or a seemingly random explosion of butterflies in your midst, visitations of certain animals after the passing of a loved one. Our loved ones who have moved into non-physical use nature to communicate and connect with us. This is perhaps the most profound example of how nature helps with depression.
Strive to Seek the Light
Depression of any kind is nothing to take lightly. Thankfully, Mother Nature in all her glory can assist us during our dark moments. If you struggle with depression, strive to seek the beauty, diversity, and brilliance present in the natural world. Will that cure depression? No. However, every little bit helps, and nature is incredibly generous with instances of joy and wonder. By the way, you probably already know this because you’re savvy…but these days I’ve got to include a disclaimer: This article about how nature helps with depression is not medical advice and should never replace therapy or consultation with a professional. As always, thanks for reading!
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