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