“Spending time in nature is healing energy.” – Reiki
What a GORGEOUS weekend we are having! Mother Nature has finally calmed down and made up her damn mind about the weather. It is currently sunny and 70 degrees – Mr. GGC and I are sitting in the yard, catching up on work after an awesome weekend with friends. I’ve been enjoying many days like this, which has inspired this post about how going green and spending time in nature has been a source of healing for my mental illness. I’m about to get really open and honest folks, so get outside, grab a cup of herbal tea, and read on.
My Crazy, Beautiful Brain
When I was in 6th grade, I became friends with this beautiful girl. She was perfect: sweet, generous, smart, talented, pretty…everything that I wanted to be, wrapped up in one lovely, petite package. I, on the other hand, was the brace face who had been bullied and never spoke up. I wore way too much eye shadow, used entirely too much hair gel, had constellations of acne on my face, was boy crazy in that annoying, obsessive way, and wanted desperately to fit in. I bring this up because 6th grade was when the anxiety started. I lost sight of who I was and began modeling my thoughts and behaviors off of my friends. To everyone else, I was the happy, funny girl. But on the inside, I felt ugly, and kind of sad.
I began performing on stage that year — one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. In theater, you transform into someone else. The stage became my safety net. I also started studying really hard. Like…all the time. That’s when I became a perfectionist. In high school, things got worse. I became my own worse critic – the biggest, and baddest bully of all. A 98% in my eyes was not good enough. I needed to get the highest grade. I needed to be the best singer. I needed to have the cutest boyfriend. I needed to be the greatest friend. Impossible expectations to live up to, right? My body thought so too.
Who Am I?
My sophomore year, I walked around with a heart monitor for a week. A big, bulky heart monitor with wires that I tried to hide under my shirt. The anxiety continued to build. My self-esteem continued to drop. Everyone else thought I was great, so why couldn’t I see that? Once I got to college, the bullying started again. I was the girl that people made up rumors about. Did you hear that Amanda slept with so and so? I didn’t, just for the record. I stayed in to study while my friends went out. I sat in front of my computer with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and cried. I dated any guy who was willing to give me attention. I needed the A+. I needed to fit in. I needed to be perfect. The only problem was, I had no idea who the hell I was. My boy problems manifested into depression. My bedroom became my sanctuary where I could cry into my pillow late at night. I gained weight and pretended to be Amanda, version 2.0. I pretended to be confident. If I fake it, eventually I will really feel that way, right?
When I met my hubby, things changed. I became the best version of myself. I had (and have) everything I had ever wanted. So why the hell was I still so anxious? And worried? And dare I say it, depressed? This all came to a head a few months ago when I had the biggest anxiety attack of my life. I have never felt so empty. It scared me, and it scared those who love and care about me the most. I felt like I was an empty shell — I didn’t have any emotions left, be it happy, sad, angry or scared. Sounds like a sad story, right? It is. BUT – I’ve been feeling different lately, and I owe a great deal of that to our going green journey.
How Going Green Can Heal You
I’ve always been an active person. I enjoy exercise (most days), and I love to be busy. A few years ago, a friend of mine from China told me about the importance of spending time in nature every day. I quickly realized that over the years, I became so busy that I forgot about how great it felt to walk barefoot on the grass. I forgot how good the flowers smelled in spring, and how calming a rainstorm can be. For the last 6 years, I’ve spent 7-8 hours of my day working in a box without windows. Florescent lighting is the bane of my existence. That started to take a toll on my mental and physical health. I love nature – I love the environment – but I had been neglecting it!
When we started this blog, I became very aware of how powerful nature can be. Something as simple as feeling a cool breeze on my arms is incredibly healing. The blog has encouraged me to get out — to take long walks, to work outside with a cup of coffee in the afternoon, to sit in silence and listen to the breeze and the birds. I know how cheesy this must sound, but I encourage you all to try it. When you are feeling overwhelmed, step outside and breathe in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth. Let the sun hit your face for a few minutes. Try meditating, or at the very least disconnecting from all of the noise in your head. Put your phone down for a few minutes, and enjoy nature. Behind every smile, there is still a great deal of chaos and at times, my thoughts still get away from me. However, each day I take small steps to reconnect with my surroundings, and with my true self.
Eat a healthy, organic meal. Drink a tall glass of cool water. Do some crafting using recycable materials. The environment is so good to me, which makes me want to be even more kind to the environment. When I’m working on the blog and doing my part to live a sustainable lifestyle, I am distracted from all of the triggers that bring about my stress and anxiety. Being outside gives me time to reflect and just be. Thanks to this project, and thanks to the environment, I am finally starting to discover who I am. At 28, I am finally starting to discover that I am pretty awesome.
Take 20 minutes to dedicate to yourself every day. Breathe deeply, eat well, smile often and live green.
xoxo ~ Mrs. GGC