Outdoors Wellness With Ashley Beolens

Outdoors Wellness With Ashley Beolens Depression (Image: Black & White image of lone Konik Pony)
Outdoors Wellness With Ashley Beolens Depression

Creeping darkness clouds my thoughts, my legs twitch more than normal, I can feel a foreboding shadow spreading over me; and then I realise it has been days since I ventured out for a walk; the rigmarole of work, the banality of hours of TV watching, the same four walls surrounding me, have all taken a toll on my mental health and I know I need to grab my walking boots, chuck a camera in my bag and get walking.

Outdoors Wellness With Ashley Beolens Depression

My racing heart begins to slow, the rhythmic beat of its thumping, easing to match the steady fall of my, boot clad, feet, as they pound the well-trodden path in front of me. The weather could be beautiful sunshine or a howling gale, the location could be a well-known area such as my local patch, with its smooth paths and accessible hides, or some distant mountain path, walked usually by herds of sheep and the odd deer, each has its own appeal, and each one relaxes my soul, calms my spirit and brightens my mood.

I’ve written in the past about how my mental health and wellbeing is heavily linked with my time spent outdoors, and more so experiencing of the joys of nature, and how it has helped me through bouts of depression; but occasionally, knowing how my mind works and that there is a need, for it is a need not a want, is not enough. In those incidences I am alerted of this desire to connect with nature in some facet; a feeling, more than anything, that something is not quite right within me, which pushes me out of the door and into the wonders of the outdoors.


A solo walk through open fields, a family forage along thick hedgerows, even just the monotonous walk of a school run can bring me back to myself; reawaken the brightness that I know I can feel; shut away the black dog once more in its kennel.

Outdoors Wellness With Ashley Beolens Depression - Alone along the Grand Union canal
Outdoors Wellness With Ashley Beolens Depression

I believe it is the connection with nature that changes my mood, a connection that is too easily lost within the modern world, the push for money, throughout society, outweighing the beauty, and protection, of nature; giant glass monoliths replacing lush green fields and tall waving trees; time spent enjoying the fresh air limited to stolen moments of “free” time between hectic work schedules and busy lives.

Even now as I type this I realise that I am as much part of the push to digitalise everything; my words not to be enjoyed, or endured, by someone; tactile, on paper; while resting below an ancient oak. But instead condensed to bytes of data and uploaded, ready to be read, from a flickering device, while commuting from one smoke and pollution filled city to another; the countryside seen only through a computer screen, or at speed through the glass window of a high speed train. Just another part of the electronic super highway.

Get Outside

So I am going to do something you won’t find many people doing. I am going to break from writing this; stop my work for the day; switch off the TV; and leave these four walls. To re-energise my body, revitalise my spirit, and re-align my mood, by heading out of the door to walk quietly though the rustling trees, breath in the seasons smells, and reconnect with the outdoors and nature.

And I’d encourage you to do the same.

Author Ashley Beolens

Outdoors Wellness With Ashley Beolens
Outdoors Wellness With Ashley Beolens

You can find out more about Ashley Beolens at Views From an Urban Lake.




If you would like to contribute to this section of the blog please visit Guest Bloggers Needed. Or to find out more about this series please read Outdoor Wellness With an Introduction.

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Outdoors Wellness with Ashley Beolens - a look at one man's battle with depression through the time spent outside in nature.
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  • Maria

    i can relate quite well to you! my mental health is completely linked to the time I spend outdoors as well… I have to go for a 7 km walk almost everyday at the park here where I live. Even in the wintertime when it’s heavily raining I feel like going… It’s just an amazing way to disconnect for a while and relax!

  • Bob Klann - The Outdoor Soul

    This is exactly how I feel almost each and every day, as I sit, monotonously, in my cubicle at work, staring at the digital void that we call a computer screen in front of me. So, I hope that writing my blog, The Outdoor Soul, and sharing my outdoor adventures will spark a greater love for the outdoors in others as well. Take your soul outdoors. It’ll thank you.

    • Ashley Beolens

      It is far to easy to fall into a rut of work, home, bed, work, home, bed. I think most people need the outdoors in some form, they just don’t realise it yet.

      Love that last line “Take your soul outdoors. It’ll thank you.” I’ll do my best not to steal it 🙂

    • Ashley Beolens

      It certainly helps to have a bit of nature on the doorstep, but I get the same release walking to collect my youngest from school. And that is through industrial estates. Being out in the “fresh” air and being able to pick out the sounds of nature, even urban nature, is enough for me.

  • mammasschool

    Our moods are so linked to the outdoors and nature and all of us are a lot happier when we have had our daily dose in this household!

    • Ashley Beolens

      It is an amazing mood lifter, just getting outside, but it isn’t just the mood it can affect, we have posts from an OCD sufferer coming up in a couple of months. And hopefully more, diverse “issues” to follow.

  • Michael

    Hi mate I can really relate to your blog I also feel lost if I haven’t managed to get out doors over the weekend I can feel the effect it has on me for
    The rest of the week especially in these winter months when it’s dark when I leave for work & return home it’s important to get outside & re connect with nature & get away from distractions

    Regards mike

    • Ashley Beolens

      It amazes me how much I can feel the pressures of life drain as I walk. And actually is scary how much I start to get cabin fever if I’m in for days at a time. Even the walk to/from work will do, just to get the exercise, fresh air, and nature around me (even in town).

  • Jonathan

    Yes, outdoor time in nature is great – for most people, but perhaps especially for those of us dealing with depression, anxiety, etc. I look forward to hearing from others as part of your series.

  • Kids of the Wild

    Couldn’t agree with your philosophy more. I’m currently working on getting more outdoor time whilst my daughter recovers from cancer – the dilemma of wanting to be with her every second while needing outdoor time for me too. But always feel better when we get outside.

    • Ashley Beolens

      Wow tough stuff, sorry to hear your daughter has been ill, hopefully she will make a full recovery. Glad you can find some respite when outside. It’s important to care for yourself in these situations too x

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