Grief is an individual process, and spending time in nature is just one of many therapeutic strategies you can use to ease the pain.
The idea of spending time in nature may bring to mind long afternoon walks in the woods, a weekend at the beach or maybe a concert at the lake. While those are some great ways to get into nature, you don’t have to spend hours outside to enjoy the gifts that being outdoors can give during a time of grief.
You may not feel up to venturing far from home or even leaving your bed after the loss of your pet, but there are some ways to enjoy nature while staying close to home. Getting up and out the door starts with understanding what nature’s gifts are for someone who is grieving.
Why should you spend time outdoors right now? There are more reasons than you may realize, starting with the following two gifts from Mother Nature.
1. Improved Perception of Health and Wellness
A study published in Scientific Reports in 2019 of nearly 19,800 people found that spending two hours in nature over the course of just one week leads to a greater sense of physical health and psychological well-being.
The results of the test found that spending less than 120 minutes in nature per week had no significant impact on health and well-being; the benefits came when individuals spent at least two hours over the course of the week.
If there’s a time when you need to feel psychologically and physically well, it’s when you’re grieving. According to this study, simply spending a few hours outdoors every week can give you a well-being boost.
2. Greater Emotional Control
Learning to self-soothe and calm emotions is an integral part of grieving your pet. There are times when you can let your guard down and should allow the free-flow of emotion, but there are also times when this can be exhausting. Perhaps you need to manage your emotions to get back to work, care for children, or a simpler reason, and that’s when spending even just five minutes outside can help.
Research has shown that gardens and other natural landscapes have a soothing, rejuvenating impact on human emotions. They help ease stress and anxiety while uplifting mood for those in a depressive state. Multiple studies have also shown that simply viewing images of nature after a stressful event will lead to lower blood pressure and slowed breathing.
This same research has sparked an increase in the production of healing gardens and public green spaces surrounding hospitals. It can also spark your motivation to get outdoors when you feel your emotions spinning out of control.
A few minutes spent in a rose garden can bring peace and calm, even if you haven’t tended to that garden in months. If nothing else, just step outdoors to a safe spot, close your eyes, and breathe deeply.
Are you ready to head outside and pick up some of these gifts from Mother Nature? Perhaps simply realizing the benefits is enough to get you up and out the door. If not, think of small ways to push beyond your comfort zone and spend some time in nature today.
Have a cup of coffee on the front porch, walk down to the mailbox, drive to the park and sit in the grass with a good book; sometimes the little moments are more than enough.
Grieving is an individual process, and spending time in nature is just one of many therapeutic strategies you can use to ease the pain. You may also find that you feel more connected to your lost pet when you’re outside, which is another great reason to pick yourself up and get some fresh air.