When I was a child a regular feature of the weekends was my mother trying to drag my family on walks in the countryside. It wasn’t easy for my mother as I am one of five children, all of us reluctant, so the task was accompanied by plenty of moaning and complaining. Yet despite all our protestations I don’t remember ever regretting being out once we were there.
Now I find myself, in my late forties, unable to get enough of the great outdoors. I live in London where we are fortunate to have many parks, but they aren’t really a substitute for the wild. And so, as I found myself lately feeling a little run down and burnt out I knew what I needed was some time in the wild. Thankfully I have a friend in the peak district who was only too happy to let me stay and come walking with me. From the moment I arrived I felt such a sense of peacefulness and awe in my surroundings.
Just as Kenton suggests, as the menopause draws nearer I find the draw to be in nature is stronger than ever; it almost seems as basic a need as food or clothing. I hear similar things from other older women, read about it, see it in Instagram and twitter posts. Kenton argues that at a time when the cyclical nature of menstruation ends we are drawn to the cycles of nature – of birth, death and regeneration. Just as nature regenerates so do women through the menopause. A harmonious relationship between women and nature is forged.
Hormonal changes during menopause transition redirect our nurturing and creativity towards ourselves rather than others. Spending time in nature is just one way of giving ourselves what we need.
Beauty is evident in many forms – the patchwork of colours on the bark of a tree, wisps of clouds in a blue sky, crunchy autumn leaves. The Irish poet John O’Donahue writes about the importance of beauty in our lives and encourages us to open ourselves to open up to awe.
These experiences and give us a deeper connection with ourselves, others and the earth.
In nature we are all accepted. It asks nothing of us except to care for it. We are not required us to prove ourselves in any way. It does not matter how we look, how much money we make or how many likes we get on social media. In nature we can take pleasure in the simple joy of being.
The Japanese have long been proponents of Forest Bathing or shinrin-yoku – spending time in forests or other green spaces for their health benefits. A meta-analysis in the journal Environmental Research found that people who spent more time in green spaces have significantly reduced risks for numerous chronic illnesses. In my own practice I have witnessed how time in nature has benefited clients with depression and anxiety, and I am not surprised that many GP’s are now prescribing time in nature to patients. Our eco-system supports our wellbeing and the emotional and spiritual uplift we feel from being in nature is a wonderful reminder.
And so, I encourage you to take time in nature, and if you can’t make it out into the wild look for it wherever you are and take a moment to let it move you.