Eco-therapy is based on the premise that people are healthier and happier when they are immersed in nature. Trees are oxygen-producing and sunlight-filtering geniuses. They smell good, and makes us feel good. I for one, feel more alive and grounded in the woods. My mind is clearer, my heart lighter. Forests are magical.
My natural survival strategy throughout this pandemic has been to spend regular time amongst trees. walking off the workday stress by the river’s edge close to home, and venturing deeper into the forest trails on the weekends. The practice has kept me sane during a crazy time in history. I walked almost daily through the burgeoning spring through to fall, alone or with a friend or on a phone call. The constancy of the path and the subtle changes in the scenery and the wildlife from March to October brought life and hope.
As winter descends and the days shorten, I find it more difficult to motivate myself to get out. Dampness seeps into my bones the moment I step out the door, and conspires with the bitter, breath stealing wind that sweeps off the river, tempting me to stay inside and hibernate for the winter. The deciduous trees along the path look barren now against the bleak November sky. Stark and quiet, easily forsaken after shedding their autumn splendor. They sadden me.
I have to remind myself that these trees are still very much alive despite their subdued, seemingly depressed outward state. They have merely slowed down and turned their attention towards tending to more introverted tasks. I imagine them whispering lullabyes to the animals wintering within boughs and branches, tucked in tenderly amongst their roots. The trees are conserving strength for the bitter months ahead, collectively taking time to rest and heal after the busyness of the warmer seasons.
My new plan is to take heed of the trees, and shift my focus towards em-bracing the restorative properties of winter rather than my usual bracing for the harshness. Bright days will be bookmarked for replenishing daytime walks with friends, stretching our branches towards the sun. When the cold winds howl and the sky is gray, I will turn my attention inwards, extending roots into creative projects and connect with love ones over warm soup and meaningful conversations. I will take time this season to process the happenings of 2020 and tend to the introspective emotions of winter.
What is your survival plan for the shorter days of November and December?