Nature Therapy

MENTAL TRAIL TIPS

When I woke up, I could immediately feel both eyes were swollen. I was in and out of restless sleep. It felt like I hadn’t actually slept at all but could recall fragmented dreams. 

The aftermath of sleeplessness sat like a rock in my stomach. Angst in my chest left me atypically without a coffee craving, like I already had three cups right when I opened my puffy eyes. 

At least that day, I would be driving from Bellingham to Seattle. There was only one thing left on my mind, after waterfalls of thoughts hungover from the night into the early morning — a Chuckanut trail. 

Chuckanut feels like it’s sitting on the edge of the Earth. Houses, scattered on its cliffs and hills, look over fjords — a word so special it immediately evokes thoughts of nordic island chains. And whether closer to the sky on a trail going up or at the foot of the scenery near the beaches, it’s the type of place available to, perhaps, feel the world expand beyond our own dramas. 

A lot of people speak of shopping therapy, but nature therapy is much more effective. Even when visiting (insert most epic, beautiful place), sometimes it’s just hard to get the motivation to get up and start moving though. It’s even harder when sad or anxious about some experience unfolding in our immediate conscience. But we all know it’s worth it

As soon as we attempt to clear the mind, a new perspective is allowed in to help solve problems or stressful events. Once turbulent thoughts slow down, a chance for inspiration opens. 

Adopting nature as the new gym also has the added bonus of clean, fresh air while you breathe heavier.

So here are the trail tips mix for the outdoor remedy seekers: 

Don’t think about anything but the trail. Why is it that the second we get some time away from work and obligations, we start running through those to-do lists? It may seem reasonable when walking to the car before or after work. When stepping into the trees though, those circular thoughts begin to feel more like the burden they actually are. When hiking, make a commitment to stay present.  

Find the motivation to make it a regular occurrence. Whatever it is. The funny thing is, it really doesn’t matter if you ever do the dang thing. When I moved to Washington, I made a promise to myself I would make it to the back country more often in the winter. After 5 years here, I still have yet to feel like I really filled this goal. And again, every single year around September, I start hitting the workouts harder and more often because, well, I’m conditioning for the backcountry hikes. 

If you must listen to music, try it with no words. Like, finally tap into all those benefits classical music offers. Or listen to tunes in another language. Why? Because, if the music is fresh, the new words become the focus. And old music takes you back to a time in the past. Like, who can listen to Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangster and not be thinking of this gem?

Or Stuck In The Middle With You and not be reminded of this scene we all want to forget?

Notice the noiselessness. There’s a lot to be said about silence in this world of chatter. But we don’t say it enough. And nature is one of the last places to find quiet. So take advantage while it’s still around. 

Just go. Even if time doesn’t allow to make it all the way to the end of the trail, even if only 20 minutes are available, go. Nature promises to inspire. There’s no way to know how until you get there, so just go. Get outta here.  

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