Combat Stress with Nature

Annette AvatarBy Annette Francine

What connects us to nature? You know, the pleasure of gardening, mowing the grass, sitting at the beach, taking a walk, or watching a sunset? When feeling frazzled and stressed, my urge is always to go outside – preferably for a brisk walk all by myself.

Why don’t I feel the same sense of renewal if I sit in front of a computer, displaying a tranquil scene, while listening to restful music? Why not the same relief if I indulge in a massage instead? Or engaging in a cardio workout? Or reading a book? Although I won’t discount the possibility (people often surprise me), I’ve never heard of a person heading into the city in search of respite from stress. Quite the contrary. We want to hike, or camp, or sail, or picnic at the beach, or play at the park, or plant some flowers, don’t we?

If you believe in our Biblical origins, humankind was fashioned from the earth. Even if you subscribe to the theory of evolution, our origins may possibly have been dust – probably microbes from comet or asteroid dust – but dust just the same. Do you suppose that’s what we try to get back to when life tends to overwhelm: our ‘returning to the womb’ so to speak?

Researchers claim adding some live greenery, i.e. plants, to the workplace improve morale and productivity, and help reduce stress. Having a window in an office is also highly prized. Isn’t it interesting to speculate why?

Whatever the true reason is, for me, communing with nature goes beyond a temporal experience. Despite the sound of planes overhead, the sight and noise of automobiles, when I’m outdoors, I am able to tune much of that out while I enjoy myriad birds flutter and vocalize, observe the antics of lizards scurrying, the yellow blossoms of the trees floating away on the breeze, the surprising sprout of weeds in the tiniest concrete cracks, striations of color in the rocks and granite hillside, the gauzy film of clouds in the sky above… I recognize in all of this the mastery of both God and nature. My experience then becomes a spiritual one as well. I believe that’s the key to my refreshment.

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