Back in Wales during September, we had a magical moment on holiday. Something happened that changed the course of our day.
We were having an awful morning, full of frustration and toddler tears, and an encounter with a beautiful part of Snowdonia National Park completely shifted all of our moods. It was as if the time spent amongst nature had a profound impact on us. Does nature have a therapeutic effect on our well being? And is there even such a thing as nature therapy?
Most 3 and 4 year olds moods can be up and down. One minute Bailey can behave like her whole world has fallen apart, and in a moment she can switch, and jump right to absolute joy. It’s one of the aspects of motherhood that I have found very tiring over the last year.
We had a particularly bad morning on holiday a few months ago. I found myself thinking “what’s happened to our sweet girl?”. It was like she was being possessed by an evil twin.
It got so bad that whilst we were having lunch out, there was a girl at the table next to us – late teens or early twenties at a guess – and she actually laughed out loud at us. Which in turn made us both laugh too… there was nothing left to do. My husband and I both tried being, calm, cross, reasonable, and ignoring the behaviour – we’d used all the parenting tricks we had up our sleeves, but Bailey was not cooperating one bit, and we were clearly exasperated.
After lunch we nearly called the day a bust and went back to the cottage to see if she would sleep. Neither my husband or myself wanted to do that though, as it felt like such a waste. We wanted to make the most of our wonderful surroundings, and weather-wise the cloud had only just lifted to reveal beautiful blue skies and sunshine. In the end we decided we would go for a little explore.
After 10 minutes on the road, we came to this incredible valley with steep rocky mountains on one side, and a stream meandering its way through the middle. I was determined to salvage something from the day and we were now being smiled upon by bright blues skies. We stopped the car, and within minutes our day did a complete 180.
We all clambered on some rocks, and spotted some tiny coloured dots on the horizon, that were half way up the mountain; climbers making their way to the top. Then we noticed a stream and went to play on some stepping stones.
By now the afternoon sun was really glorious, and we all found ourselves turning our faces to the warmth of the sun. I could feel my husband and I breathe out, and let go of the mood of the morning. Within moments we were all taking our thick socks and boots off and paddling in the stream, which was now twinkling in the sunlight. By connecting our bare feet to the damp stones, and feeling the freshest mountain water wash over them, the frustrations and troubles of the day where carried away.
It was such a beautiful place, that just by standing still and being there, we all found a sense of inner peace. It was like we were absorbing all the good from the earth.
In the end I think we were there for about an hour just spending time with each other, and playing around in the stream. It was one of those perfect moments that you just don’t want to end.
Months later I can still remember the scene so vividly. It will be imprinted on my memory for years to come. In fact I can still close my eyes and take myself back there, and instantly a wave of calm and peace washes over me.
It was more than we were just enjoying our beautiful surroundings. All three of us felt a sense of connectedness that we had been missing all morning. We felt connected to this wonderful spot and we felt connected to one another.
I have often thought, since Bailey was a baby that when she acts out and misbehaves, that it is as a direct result of feeling disconnected. The subsequent confusion and questions that arise from this empty feeling, leaves her feeling unsure and insecure.
Isn’t nature incredible to have such a profound effect on the three of us..? Our moods were completely shifted.
Research is being done all the time into the regenerative properties of spending time in nature, and how it can help improve mood, alleviate depression and anxiety. Nature Therapy (contact with nature, also sometime know as Ecotherapy) is being used by more and more mental healthcare professionals. Not only that, but some healthcare professionals are issuing ‘nature prescriptions’ for other medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
The majesty of nature of course is not a new concept. Writers, composers and artists have always tried to capture and describe the wonder and joy that nature can bring.
I think it’s important to acknowledge the power and reverence that nature has, and make sure we enjoy the nature that is around us as much as possible.
There is no doubt in my mind that nature has therapeutic qualities, and positively impacted our day by that stream. By being in such close and encompassing contact with nature, we became calm, grounded, and content. It was a dream of a time, that left us all feeling more whole. Instead of heading home unfulfilled, we took with us a piece of unforgettable bliss.