“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed, and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” ― Henry David Thoreau
Learning to Switch Off in the Mountains
I personally find it quite hard to switch off and relax. I tend to get worked up rather easily and put way too much emotion into everything I do. When someone reads my text but doesn’t answer within a 10 minute time period I immediately break out in cold sweat and start to reevaluate everything I’ve ever uttered to that person. This is just part of who I am. With University slowly but surely coming to an end, me searching for a full-time job, the blog, my personal life and other adult problems, though, it all started to get to my head.
When I was experiencing panic attacks much more frequently and started actually crying in the middle of the day because I was so overwhelmed with everything, I realized that I seriously had to do something about it. And that’s exactly when I started venturing out into nature more. I frequently talked about mental health on here but I think I never went into detail about how much nature and wilderness actually calms me down.
Acknowledging The Healing Power of the Wilderness
When it all got too much, I started to walk. First, I wandered around my new neighbourhood and quickly found a lovely path that led me through a small forest, into the countryside where I sometimes went for hour long walks or runs in the evening to calm my nerves before my exams at university. And nothing ever helped me as much as a little breeze of fresh air, having grass under my feet and feeling the warm evening sun on my skin while letting it all go and learning to switch off.
Then came the roadtrip and I realized, once more, how much I need nature for my mental health. While we were exploring the mountains and walking alongside in silence I felt like I could finally breathe again. I let it all go and finally – after months – was able to sit down and enjoy a quiet meal without thinking too much about where my life is going. When I first read Wild by Cheryl Strayed I couldn’t grasp how that hike could possibly help her so much with personal growth and finding the path towards herself. But now I see it. I definitely do.
Realizing That You Cannot Do It All
What I realized lately is that you just cannot do it all. Shocking, right? I feel like we’re constantly being told that we need to be girlbosses. We need to hustle and work in order to be fully independent. But you know what? All these things are aimed at consumerism, money and success. But what if that’s not all I want in life? I can be feminist and still seek a loving partner that supports me. I can be financially independent without letting work overtake my life. I can be a blogger and not share every last second of my private life online.
And that last one was especially important for me to realize. Learning to switch off has made me figure out that the path I was on wasn’t the one towards happiness. So I decided to let it go. I decided to pursue what makes me happy, not what makes me successful. And nature helped me with that. It has shown me how insignificant my problems are in the face of the vastness of the world. The great unknown. The stunning beauty of time marked forever in mountains. That fresh mountain breeze, that brings hope and carries away all your problems. Wild flowers blooming against all the odds. Hardening in the eye of the storm.
And I realized that whenever it gets too much – that buzz of the city, the rush of the people, this fast paced world – all I have to do is venture out into the wild and I’ll find myself again.
Have you also had that situation where learning to switch off was on your priority list? And are you as much rooted in nature as I am? What do you to switch off and let it all go? Let’s talk in the comments below.