Going green wins again, and I’m not just saying that because I’m Irish. 🙂
Research shows that PTSD sufferers who went fishing in the great outdoors for 3 consecutive days experienced a 32% reduction in feelings of guilt, a 43% reduction in feelings of hostility, a 3o% decrease in feelings of fear and a 36% decrease in feelings of sadness.
Ironically, the exactly opposite results were found for the fish…
A parallel study was published in the recent edition of Ecopsychology. The study involved 2,000 participants and 3,000 organized group walks per week. The study found that people who walked in nature experienced a significant mood boost and a significant decrease in stress.
But no kidding, right? Nature has a calming, seductive rhythm. We should listen to it and allow our bodies to mimic its tempo while detoxing away the poisonous, raucous rhythms of modern urban life. When I used to march in formation in my Army days, if you were out of step with everyone else who was marching with you, someone would snarl at you, “Get in step!” So now, when I’m feeling completely stressed and out of it, I tell myself to “Get in step with nature.” You always win that way. 😉
I also recommend getting lost in the woods if you are depressed, because then you will distract yourself from your depression by trying to find your way back to your house or your car before you starve or become dinner for a pack of hungry coyotes. I mean, right? The funny thing about having to fight for survival or focus on an imminent problem is that you won’t have time to be depressed. 😉
I will recommend not going hiking alone, though. I do all the time, because it’s hard to wait around for your friends to coordinate their schedules with yours, and I always meet weird guys on wooded trails that are surely serial killers. For example, on my last hike on the Appalachian trail with my dog Barnaby, this overly friendly, nerdy-appearing white man approached us wearing a shirt sporting some slogan about being a Jehovah’s Witness. Overly nerdy-appearing, too much charm, and an obvious advertisement about your Godly ways on a t-shirt you are wearing= SERIAL KILLER. Plus, no real Jehovah’s Witness would be in the middle of the woods. They need neighborhoods with lots of doors. ( I also know he was a serial killer, because my dog growled at him, and my dog does not growl at annnnnbody, sans serial killers.)
If you DO go hiking alone to cure your depression or whatever mental demons you are fighting, to protect yourself from the serial-killer encounter, carry a whistle with you and start blowing it as loud as possible if you meet a psycho on your path. (Psycho Path, pun intended.) When serial killers hear potential victims blowing whistles, they assume you have a plan or that someone with a lot of authority and rescue training will fly into the woods and save you. In between blowing you can announce, “In seconds, Rescue Ranger Blah blah blah will be here to save me!” The reality is that no one will come running when they hear your whistle, because no one will have any idea who you are, where you are or why you are blowing your whistle. No one cares. They’ll think you’re crazy. No one will hear your whistle and say, “OMG! That’s Erin in the woods blowing her whistle because she met the serial killer in the Jehovah’s Witness T-shirt, and she’s about to be killed!” Yeah, no one will do that. You just have to pretend someone will do that. 😉
Here are pictures from me and Barnaby’s latest wooded adventure. You’re probably wondering who took our photos? It was the serial killer. Or not. Could have been Big Foot. You’ll never know.