Mental Health

Walking in Nature

Finding our joy in our work is one thing. Finding where we want to work from is another.

This summer, Wigwam Holidays created their ‘At Home Outdoors‘ series, which kickstarted with my experience and will role out others tales this autumn. Those who have found something in the outdoors which they simply can’t replicate indoors.

My experience wasn’t born out of a knowing, but was something I was guided to, and unfolded before me. I’d been working in offices since my early 20’s. In the City, Canary Wharf, Liverpool Street, Victoria. Always a box in a building though. Just with different surroundings.

Clearly I found some pleasure in that. Maybe it was the tribal gathering of people in one place, all working towards a common goal. Whether that was to support athletes going to the Sydney Olympics (Barclaycard Team 2000), or building sports facilities around the country (Barclays Spaces for Sports) or generating TV advertising and communications for brands (to buy homes, to sell clothes, to get sailors ready for their adventures). In some way, there was always a common goal and a purpose. And who’s to say there’s anything wrong with it. There isn’t. It’s just one way of living.

Until, that one way was no longer the way I wanted to live.

We are Nature, and so spending time in it, really shouldn’t feel very alien to us. When we do, we don’t often get an instant high, but more of a gradual feeling of:

  • ‘Oh I feel better today’,
  • ‘I feel calmer, less anxious’,
  • ‘Wow I’ve just realised the next step I need to take’,
  • ‘I’m inspired to write that book now’.
  • I’m just going to ring X and tell them how much they mean to me‘.

They are moments which are hugely significant in our lives, and yet we don’t often credit being outdoors, being in nature, as the common denominator. Maybe write your own list of when you’ve made big decisions, or had important conversations with your family and friends, and see where they all happened. I bet it’ll be when on the beach, or walking in the woods, or soon after you’ve been outside in nature!

And so, before I knew it, whilst training for my counselling qualifications I was walking in the park and I decided that I’d be doing my work outside. I didn’t share that with my class, as we were at the time practicing our skills with a tissue box, a clock and two chairs at an angle to each other. Walking therapy wasn’t a thing then. Thank goodness it’s moving that way now.

And when I think back to my big decisions, they were also when I was outside;

  • When I couldn’t walk through the tube barrier to go to work at Canary Wharf, I decided to go for a long walk
  • When I decided to study therapy I was with a friend in the park, on a walk
  • When I decided to leave corporate employment I was in Hong Kong (on a work trip!) and couldn’t bear being surrounded by shops, more shops, and desperate consumerism.

Making the decision can be hard. Transitioning can be harder. It doesn’t have to be, if we allow ourselves to be guided and to trust the process. In fact, one successful way is to invite the process, with a knowing that deep down it’s serving you perfectly.

This is much of the work I do in my ‘therapy/coaching’ on a 1-2-1 basis and in groups. To support others going through the big life questions:

  • Why am I here?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • What and how should I be spending this life?
  • What else can I do?

If these are questions you’re sitting with, and want someone to walk the path alongside you, then please get in contact and I’d love to help.

For now, here’s some of those moments on my path, captured and told by the wonderful Helen Burt at Wigwam with the back story here.

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