The Anxiety Struggle: How Nature Helps
It happened again.

Heart racing, chest tightening, arm feeling a bit tingly. 

I was having another panic attack. It seems this is the season where they hit me the most.

Many of you know that I've been dealing with anxiety and panic attacks since early 2016. They come at random, but there seems to always be one season where my attacks happen more than any other. You guessed it: Winter!

Over the last few years, my attacks have consistently been rare in the warmer months when I'm outside riding my bike, hiking, and immersing myself in nature. Then winter hits, and I find myself indoors where I hibernate until Spring. I've used so many excuses: "It's too cold!", "I'll get frostbite!", "These blankets are so much warmer!" Does that sound like you?

The problem with this mentality is that nature helps us heal, especially when it comes to anxiety. So if I'm cooped up in the house for 3 months with no interaction with trees, bushes, dirt, etc, I'm actually creating more anxiety for myself. When I'm out in the woods, I'm less stressed, my focus is more clear, and I feel more in tune with the world around me. Not only that, but when I spend a lot of time indoors, I tend to gravitate to my computer...a LOT. 

While technology has proven to be a helpful tool in many ways, it's also proven to be very harmful in other ways, especially regarding mental health. In March of 2018, there was an article published in the paper about elementary students having anxiety in one of our local school districts. The results showed that 38% of students who worked with the district's 13 therapists were diagnosed with anxiety, and that screen time could make it worse (Fittes, 2018).

Just last week when my anxiety was ramped up, I got off my computer, and my husband and I visited our local state park. Although it was a bit warmer than normal, I still had to pile on a couple layers to stay warm. I'm always cold, and I would've much rather stayed in the warmness of my living room, but I've learned over the last 4 years that I NEED nature. 

Now when I say nature, I'm not saying you have to pack your bags and go on a week-long trek in the wilderness. Yes, I love spending time at our local state park immersed in the woods. Inhaling the air of the forest. Listening to the birds chirping. Seeing the squirrels scampering from tree to tree. THIS, to me, is nature at its finest. For many, though, this is a bit challenging. Lack of time, lack of nature access, and other factors can make it nearly impossible. In these cases, you can certainly observe trees, flowers, plants, and sky in your neighborhood. Regardless of where you are, you can experience the beautiful healing power of the outdoors. 

If you're part of the 18.1% of the adult population who struggles with anxiety each year and you're reading this today, my prayer is that you'll commit to spending more time outdoors. Nature really does heal. God created it that way for our enjoyment, health, and wellness. I'm choosing that for myself today. How about you?

In favor of nature,

1 Comment

  1. There is so much truth to this, getting into nature, finding rest and peace. God wants us to enjoy this beautiful creation around us!
    Adrienne Davis AUTHOR  08/30/2023 02:48 PM Central
    Amen, David! Your response made me think of what I just read in your book the other night about you and Katrina getting your little 1-acre property and having your house built into the side of the hill. You are one who definitely enjoys the creation around you!

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