Positivity Plan Point 6 – Get out into Nature

[Recorded on 16/11/20 – Read the transcript below]

Hi, and I’m Doctor Courtney Raspin from Altum Health. And thank you for joining me for our weekly deep dive into one point of the Altum Viral Positivity Plan.

Now, we designed this plan to help give you some tools and techniques over 10 weeks to help improve your mental health. And our hope is that by giving you these tools and techniques that are based in psychological research, that we can help not only reduce the spread of the virus while we’re in lockdown, but also boost a bit of positivity and spread that around because emotions are contagious too.

Ah, we’ve got some people joining us. I’m going to say hello. Hey Margie. Hello, Sally and Kim. Hi Kim. Emma and Christina. Thanks for showing up. Thanks for your support. I hope that you’re enjoying the plan so far. Ah, Nature Woman, our guest tonight. She is with us now.

This week, we are looking at getting out into nature and the healing power of nature. And when I thought about this week’s tip, this week’s area of focus, I thought who better than to talk to us about the healing powers of nature than Nicole Worrica. Nicole is a senior associate on my team and just a wonderful human being.

She is not only an integrative art psychotherapist, but she is training to become a nature allied psychotherapist, and this is quite an intensive training. And if I understand correctly, what it enables you to do is it teaches you how to take your client out of the office and into nature so that you can use nature as your co-therapist and use the natural world as a way of healing.

So I’m really pleased that Nicole is here tonight and with us. So I’m going to get her on with us right now, so she can talk about why nature is so healing and what you can do to try and get out there and start using it to help boost your own mental health.

Nicole Worrica:

Hello, Courtney. Hello, everyone, really pleased to be here, to be invited to talk about nature. I’m even wearing my top with moths on it, so bringing nature on to Instagram.

So I know that we wanted to talk about nature and how good it is for your mental health. So for me, I feel when I’m out in nature, I can really feel a sense of that lowering of my heart rate, particularly if I’m stressed and there’s lots of cortisol flowing around my body. Once I start walking, I can feel my heart rate slowing down, and it kind of brings me into this meditative state where I feel calm.

And when I’m feeling calmer, I’m able to really engage and connect with my surroundings around me. Suddenly I can see nature around me, suddenly I can feel nature around me. I can feel nature within me. I can smell it, taste it, see it, hear it.

So it feels really effective and it kind of brings a sense of belonging and belonging to something that is bigger than me. Yeah? So that’s one of the restoring effects of nature and how good it is for your mental health.

Obviously, when we’re brought up in cities, it can really exacerbate our fear and our stress, so it’s so important to get out in nature if we can.

So I wanted to share with you some top tips, and I wondered if you would have a go at doing this if you can and feedback. So one of my tips is being quite new to nature myself is getting those walking shoes on. Going out, starting with small goals, even if it’s just 15 minutes or less a day. And maybe take a note of your thoughts and your feelings afterwards. How do you feel after you’ve gone for that 15 minute walk?

Be kind to yourself. The more you try and lay down that routine, the brain will really start getting used to it. It’s like a foundation for your learning of a new process of getting outside. Don’t worry if the weather’s not that great. At first it can feel like, “Oh, it’s raining,” but there’s amazing thing about nature. If you’re out in the woods and it’s raining, you’ll find your shelter, or nature will guide you towards your shelter.

I wanted to share with you a course that I’ve been doing called Nature Allied Psychotherapy, and I hope to continue with the diploma to enable me to take clients outside beyond the normal face-to-face therapeutic sessions indoors. We were invited to do a meditation in nature, and we were just asked to go and find somewhere in these woods that you’re drawn to. Just follow your intuition.

And I remember finding this wonderful tree. And I remember sitting down on this tree. I don’t normally hug trees, but let me give this a go. And what I noticed was paying attention to it, how old this tree was. Oh my goodness. It’s been here so many hundreds of years, even before I was born. How awesome is that? And I held onto the tree, and I had this sense, “Oh, I can hold onto the tree, and the tree is holding me.” And I felt really positive vibes. Almost as if Mother Nature was holding me in that moment.

And then I looked around me and I observed fungi growing things, and I think, “Ewww, fungi.” But then it made me think, “Oh my goodness, this fungi is working together with the tree to keep it standing and alive.” So what a wonderful moment.

Any other top tips I can give you? So let’s just remind ourselves again, trying to set up a routine to walk 15 minutes a day. I know it’s COVID at the moment. Sometimes though, if you can and it feels safe enough, enlist a buddy, or once COVID is over, enlist of buddy to go walking with. You could Google the local council website, local walking groups as time goes on and you develop your own walking.

You could have a go at bringing nature to you. Getting some plants, tending to them, putting your hands in the earth. Just enjoying nature on your doorstep. Seeing what animals live around your area. There’s something so nice I think about when we go for a walk and we’re ruminating. This part of our brain, the front part of our brain, our prefrontal cortex is where we ruminate and ruminate and ruminate. But once we get outside, we’re coming out from inside of our heads and engaging in the here and now with all the sights and sounds and smells and tastes around us.

And there’s something about nature and waiting for it to come to you. If we engage with it, it will come alongside you almost I feel like a co-therapist. All right? Well, I look forward to hearing your feedback. I wish you well with getting outside. Take care, everyone.

Doctor Courtney Raspin:

Thank you so much, Nicole, for joining us tonight and teaching us all about the healing power of nature. Now for you get out into nature this week, we want to know about it. We want to know if it’s helping you feel better. We want to know what you are doing. So be sure to share your pictures with us. Use the hashtag #positivityplan or tag me @drcourtneyraspin, so I can see what you’re up to.

And don’t forget to join us next week for week seven of our plan, and we look forward to seeing you then. Thanks for joining us. Bye.

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