Today we’ll look at the gift of nature, an important ingredient in coping with anxiety and panic attacks.
Over the past few days when I’ve been taking my dog Buddy out for our morning walk I’ve been noticing something wonderful: the spring songs of birds.
Yesterday they were so loud they sound absolutely joyous, all these beautiful birds merrily chirping away. The air was alive with these spring songs. It was moving to the point where I got a tear in my eye.
My friend Linda reminded me on Monday that God surrounds us with angels all the time, we just have to remember to notice. Yesterday those birds were my angels. They lifted me up and reminded me that I am so blessed.
Thank you God for the crisp March air, the angelic singing of the birds, my wonderful Buddy, and the promise of spring. What a joy.
I first noticed that God sends me birds around 2002, when I was going through a really tough time. I was at Disney World, actually. Anyone with small children, a suboptimal marriage (at the time) and panic disorder can attest that this can be a highly stressful place to be.
I remember very clearly, my husband and I were arguing in the middle of a park. It was very ugly. Then without warning, he just stormed off with kids in tow, leaving me abandoned in the middle of Mickey Mouse land. I was beside myself and my panic disorder went into full blown emergency mode. I had multiple, severe panic attacks on the spot and felt very frightened and agoraphobic. It was awful.
Once I regained some composure, I wobbled over to a bench and just sat down trying to center myself. I tried to do abdominal breathing. I started to pray.
Then a Robin flew from out of nowhere and landed on the bench with me. It was too close to feel natural. It was also odd because there were people all around us. He only stayed for about 10 – 15 seconds before taking off, but I noticed how my mood changed. Suddenly, I was at peace. Suddenly I knew this dilemma would work itself out, and it did by the end of the day. I don’t know how I knew this, but I was A-Okay after that little bird’s visit.
Since then, I notice God sends me birds from time to time. Often it’s during a stressful event, but not always. I think it’s just His way of saying “Hi, I’m here, and I haven’t forgotten you..” It is so cool. The birds always catch my attention because they are just way too close than the usual distance between human and wild fowl.
The Healing Power of Nature
There is real healing to be found in nature, however you choose to experience it. One of my favorite authors, Dr.Wayne Dyer in his book 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace, recommends walking around barefoot when feeling out of touch or otherwise disturbed. While I don’t go barefoot unless I’m on a beach, I know what he means.
When I feel anxious, I love to busy myself in nature, by weeding around my yard in summer, raking the leaves in fall, doing spring clean up, or shoveling the snow in winter. Being outside and doing something repetitious is a real antidote to stress and anxiety. It helps me feel connected to nature, literally rooted and more grounded. I also get the mood enhancing benefits of the wonderful sunlight, and I get a little exercise in to boot.
Another way nature helps me feel less anxious is to simply observe it. Nature, left undisturbed, is in peaceful state– an equilibrium with the environment. This gives me great comfort, for isn’t this also the way God intended us to be?
- I can observe the grace and beauty of that hundred year old oak tree in my back yard, and remember that it grew upright over years contrary weather. Hmm.. kind of like us, right?
- I can observe the a group of geese, as they glide peacefully over the pond. No social anxiety there.
- I can observe my Buddy, laying quietly in the next room, sound asleep after a satisfying morning walk. He’s definitely not worried about having a panic attack.
Take a moment today and notice something beautiful and healing in nature. God sends me birds. Yesterday I guess he felt like sending me a whole symphony! Hello God, and Thank You!
What does God send you? How can you use the wonder of nature to help you cope with anxiety and panic attacks today?
I wish you peace,
ps. I recommend listening to nature CD’s when you can’t get out and just need a little bit of nature to help you get through the day. I like Echoes of Nature: Morning Songbirds. It is wonderful! Click on the CD to purchase at Amazon.com
photo credit: audreyjm529