Nothing fascinates me quite as much as the nurturing power of the outdoors. Having lived in the countryside my entire life so far, I’ve been brought up constantly surrounded by natural beauty. I mean, living in the sticks definitely has it’s downsides, e.g. the pain of £25 taxis after nights out (that’s 15 Jägerbombs worth!). Bless my Mam for getting up to give me a lift 9/10 times.
However, I wouldn’t change where I live for the world.
There’s something that’s just so calming about being alone in a beautiful, quiet place, surrounded by wildlife and trees. I think getting out of the house and enjoying the outdoors is something we could all benefit from. Personally, though I’ve always enjoyed the countryside, I didn’t realise what a therapeutic effect it had on me until relatively recently. It started out when I would get on my horse and go for a ride to let go of my troubles. This is one of my fondest memories; I would literally just sit and talk to him about my troubles whilst the fresh air blew away my worries. 3 years ago, my horse died and I decided to stop horse riding – this is when I moved on to walking.
I think the thing I love the most about nature and the outdoors is the sense of freedom it evokes. I, as I’m sure a lot of people do, have a terrible habit of sitting and dwelling on my thoughts whilst I’m at home doing nothing. It often leaves me feeling almost trapped in my own head. I noticed a few years ago that going out for a walk really tackles that feeling of being ‘pursued’ by my own thoughts. Just the act of getting up, sticking in my earphones and going for a short walk can completely change my outlook on life. My favourite place to wander is in the woods and near a beck or stream, as I find the sound of running water incredibly relaxing.
Sometimes, instead of listening to music along the way, it’s nice to go for a mindful walk. Mindfulness essentially means paying close attention to the present moment; sounds, sights, the feel of the ground beneath your feet, and so on. This is a really healthy thing to do as often as possible, as it keeps you grounded in the here and now. Almost all of our worries are rooted either in the past or the future, so to pay close attention to being present in the moment can really ease those fears. Next time you find yourself worrying, ask yourself ‘in this precise moment, is anything actually wrong?’ the majority of time the answer will be no. Going out and focusing on the beauty that surrounds you can be almost hypnotic, I would even say it’s similar to meditation.
I realise of course that I’m incredibly lucky to live in such a quiet and pretty place, but I think going outside and walking, wherever it may be, can be therapeutic. One of my favourite holidays ever was Scotland, the scenery was so breathtaking and I honestly felt so spiritual, balanced and calm for the week we were there, even though my exams were looming! Below is one of the pictures I took on that trip. If you ever find yourself fretting or upset and don’t know what to do, don’t sit and dwell on things – get up, go for a walk somewhere beautiful and you’re sure to come back feeling refreshed and calmed.