Having suffered from depression and anxiety for the vast majority of my life, I have often felt that nothing and no-one has the answers to guide me towards ending this insufferable illness. As a result, I have used my own coping strategies to help me to relax or simply escape. We all need to escape sometimes! One of my favourite ways to make myself feel better on a ‘down day’ is to go for a walk with my dog. However long or short, the fresh air and the feeling of being at one with the world seem to take away my cares, and for a short moment in time, give me the space to think in the peace and quiet of the natural world.
I am extremely lucky to live in Cornwall, on the south coast of England, and (not being biased of course) it is one of the most beautiful places I could ever wish to have lived. Whenever I feel low, down, anxious or worried, I have a vast choice of places to escape to: the beach, the cliffs, the woodland, fields, unknown pathways and local hotspots.
Above, I share with you some of my most recent escapes from the loud, at times oppressive nature of the outside world.
Time after time, doctors have told me that exercise will undoubtedly help to boost my mood and dull my anxiety, and I’m sure this is true and has been medically proven. However, this is not why I spend my free time walking and enjoying my local surroundings. Instead, nature gives me clarity. When I walk, I have time to think. And when I think, I can try to make sense of thoughts that are swimming in my head, and put things into a little perspective. When you feel depressed, being alone with your thoughts can be a scary prospect, but opening up to the idea of doing that can lead to growth beyond your imagination.
I think that the most amazing thing about nature, it reminds me just how small I am in comparison to the bigger picture. And this is not a negative. On the contrary, being small reminds me that the world and all that is in it, deals with much more than I do on a daily basis. This perspective allows me to realise that my worries are smaller than they can at times seem. Nature, and my access to beautiful, tranquil beaches and picturesque cliff tops and woodland, mean that I can truly see the beauty in the world. Everywhere I turn there are new places that I am yet to explore, (that me and my dog have included on our walking bucket list) and each remind me how perfect this world really is when you strip everything back and look at the bigger picture for what it is.
Breathing in the fresh, sea air is soothing to me. It is calming. At my worst, I have made my way to the beach or cliffs, sat down and just cried or screamed. Nature soaked up my cries, healed my pain (if only for a moment), and helped me to clear some of my emotional blocks.
Clarity, peace and time to think. Now that is a healer, – not in a hippie sense of the word – and nature really can heal negativity, but only if you allow it. I definitely went through a stage where being alone at any time meant fear, negativity and trying to drown out those violently loud noises from my inner demons. Time spent alone walking and enjoying quality time with my dog has really taught me to love being alone with my thoughts, and sometimes allowing yourself to think does not have to take on negative meaning of depressive or suicidal thoughts, but can instead make you realise the beauty of the world, and ultimately, make you feel more connected to it. If this helps us all to feel like we are connected and we belong, then for a time, even if just for a minute, we can shut out those negative voices telling us we don’t want to be on this earth.