Reconnecting with nature: a key to prevent burnout

As psychologists, we are used to indicating or suggesting people to take walks into nature. Studies prove the importance of this practice for rewiring our brains and lowering the amount of stress and anxiety. There is even a mental disorder related to the lack of nature.

Why are we so disconnected from nature?

It is a complex situation because we are also part of a society and this society demands from us to be constantly adjusting to some rules: there is a schedule, a dressing code, a protocol, a hierarchy structure, some other beings that depend on us, a trend, a rhythm, some speed… And we use mostly our cognitive part to respond to all of this, leaving our emotions in a secondary place. And then there is our sensory system, more primitive than the other two, but very important in our relationship with this world. If we are constantly running and responding to demands that come from our environment (our social environment), we tend to forget to pay attention to our own needs and wishes.

How many times we drink coffee to be able to keep on functioning when we are extremely tired?

How about using our lunch time for a meeting or to answer emails or to finish a task?

Have you ever felt the need to close your computer and go outside to catch fresh air but postponed it for later?

All these situations are related to needs that we experience in our bodies, and we tend to ignore or disregard: tiredness, hunger, breathing, relieving tension… It is natural to feel them, it is not so natural to silence them and always postpone them. I know we are used to not having so much time in our schedules for these, and sometimes it is not possible to respond to them, but the accumulation of unheard and unsatisfied needs (emotional and organic ones) it´s what leads us to burnout.

Being in nature, reconnecting with it, can help us stay healthy, both physically and mentally.

But what does ´being in nature´ exactly mean?

It means we need to remember that we are part of nature, we are nature. We need to feel the air we breathe, feel the warmth of the sun or the cooling touch of the rain in our skin, the texture of the grass in our feet, hear the noise of birds singing, sense the texture of the bark of a tree with our hands, taste the flavour of our favourite fruit or food, feel the relaxion of our muscles after a swim or some training session.

How do we practice this?

The first step is to recover the capacity to identify your own states, and mostly your discomfort states. We are used to force ourselves to tolerate more than we should, so we need to learn to identify discomfort in it´s early stages, to see the first red flags of a situation. I´m sure we are all capable of identifying a pain in our backs or a headache. Well, we can start trying to sense the itching in our eyes when we are tired of looking at a screen, which, if we take a break, close them a little bit, go outside for a short period of time, may prevent getting a headache. Or try to identify the tension in our back muscles before it becomes a pain and do some movements or stretching.

If you read up to hear and still think ´yeah, lovely but I still have a lot of work to do and not much time to go for a hiking in the forest or a swim in the ocean´, let me tell you that you are right. We can´t change our routines, schedules, and behaviours from one day to the other. However, we can start acknowledging, validating our needs and wishes.

How? Start by practicing every day for a few minutes to ask yourself how you feel, assess your body state, your senses, and your emotions. You can do it when there is a trigger (a pain, a strong emotion or a spiralling thought) or maybe at the end of the day.

What can you ask yourself? Here are some examples:

Regarding your sensory system/body: Am I tired? Hungry? In pain? Do I need to pee or go to the toilet? Am I thirsty? Do I need fresh air? Do I need to make some movement? Do I sense any pain?

Regarding your emotions: Do I feel pleased, calm, and comfortable? Or do I feel sad, scared, angry, frustrated? Try to relate these emotions to concrete situations to contribute to a better understanding. You can also try to link them to the sensory responses you found, to your body state.

Regarding your cognitive system: Am I capable of concentrating, memorizing, fast responding, and processing information? Also, try to connect this assessment of your mind with the previous two.

It will take just a few minutes, if there´s a trigger it will be easier, take the opportunity to talk to yourself. And then you decide if you are available or able to give a response to that necessity right away, later, or never. I hope ´never´ starts becoming less of an option.

And if you still feel overwhelmed and not capable of trying this exercise, maybe it is a good moment to start a psychotherapy process. Sometimes we need a guidance to achieve a healthier routine.

27 March 2024
Clinical Psychologist, Counseling Psychologist, Psychologis... Show more
(PhD)
Silvina
Clinical Psychologist, Counseling Psychologist, Psychologis... Show more
(PhD)

I´m a psychologist (PhD in Psychology) with more than 10 years of experience conducting psychotherapy treatments from an integrative perspective, focused in solving problems and easing suffering, centered in the person and their needs and wishes.

I´m specialised in adults, trauma, vulnerability and psychosomatics.

I can offer a safe and confidential space where people can express their thoughts, feelings and experiences, and I can accompany them to process those from different perspectives, supporting them with empathy, respect and creativit ...

Years in Practice
13 years
Posts
Free Initial Consultation
$30 USD
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 L'Ametlla de Mar, 43860,
Catalonia, Spain
L'Ametlla de Mar, 43860, Catalonia, Spain
Online

I´m a psychologist (PhD in Psychology) with more than 10 years of experience conducting psychotherapy treatments from an integrative perspective, focused in solving problems and easing suffering, centered in the person and their needs and wishes.

I´m specialised in adults, trauma, vulnerability and psychosomatics.

I can offer a safe and confidential space where people can express their thoughts, feelings and experiences, and I can accompany them to process those from different perspectives, supporting them with empathy, respect and creativit ...

Years in Practice
13 years
Posts
Free Initial Consultation
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