People say that nature is the best physician. And they’re right, says Najla Al Tenaiji…
Walking is the only thing which nobody has ever forced me to do. Walking has always my favorite exercise – it was before my trauma, and remained so afterwards.
During my rehabilitation stay in Germany and London, I used to walk with assistance inside the centre and sometimes in the park. Once, when Al Reem and I were visiting London, she suggested we take a walk in Hyde Park. I remember thinking it would be easier to walk inside, too much hassle to go outside. But she insisted, and so I reluctantly agreed.
It was my first outdoor walk after my accident. And it was an incredible moment. It was the beginning of May, the best time to visit London. The temperature was good and the park was green and blooming. The beautiful shapes of the white clouds made the blue sky seem more beautiful, and the sun added magnificent colors to the atmosphere. It was then that I realised how nature always gives us such great gifts. And how, by refusing to go outside, I was missing this beauty. I was hurting myself by not prioritising my connection to nature. It was an eye-opening walk for me.
That day was a game-changer in my healing. I started spending more time in nature and it began to help me psychologically restore. My mood got better, my health improved, and I started feeling my like my old self again.
My therapist told me that walking in in nature is helpful for my developing memory and attention. A 90-minute walk yields changes to our brains in a way that can protect against depression and negative thoughts.
Nature provides excellent stress relief by enabling us to remove ourselves from the things that cause us stress in the first place. It makes us happier, and it increases levels of the hormone oxytocin. This hormone is responsible for feeling calm and emotional.
Taking this suggestion to heart, I changed up my daily routine. And I now seek out quiet areas in parks when I can, ideally ones that feature bodies of water. When I can’t do that, I try to walk along streets with the most trees or by a pool or lake. I take more breaks to sit in nature, I hug trees, touch leaves, breath in the air. And if I can’t do that, I’ll sit by a window.
There’s always a way to get closer to nature.
So if you’re struggling with low mood, depression or anxiety or even resentemt, visit a forest and focus your sense of smell, taste, sight, sound and touch on your natural surroundings. There is no WiFi in the forest but, but believe me you’ll get better connection.