I had thought I was doing a decent job managing the stress of the pandemic, social unrest, my cancer advocacy and concerns, economic instability, the climate crisis, and everything that is 2020. I wasn’t.
Here’s how nature helped and how it might help you too.
|Double rainbow on the ridge opposite my deck.|
A deep sigh overwhelmed me as I sat down with a cup of tea on the deck of our mountain cabin—a shock down my neck, through my tense shoulders, to my arms, and into my clenched fingers. An unexpected, visceral response.
For a moment, I sat unmoving as my muscles contracted, then relaxed, and relaxed more. It felt almost violent. An emotional exorcism.
I often exhale a long, healthy sigh on this deck, a natural reaction to the miraculous calm and quiet before me. I look out at a meadow, across a tiny stream, over to a forested ridge. To my right looms the mountain in whose shadow we spend the summers.
But this new reaction was far beyond that simple act of deep breathing. It felt more like an attack.
I had thought I was doing a decent job managing the stress of the pandemic, social unrest, my cancer advocacy and concerns, economic instability, the climate crisis, and everything that is 2020. That’s an incomplete list, and even reading it is stressful. I knew I was traumatized, but I was sure I was handling it just fine, what with being me and all.
|Our hummingbird feeder attracts gorgeous guys like this. You can put a feeder just about anywhere.|
As I sat down in the mountain sun, I had unconsciously unleashed a batch of negative emotions that had skittered out of my body like little demons: fear, anxiety, anger, grief, stress, confusion, depression, disgust. More, I’m sure.
Most of us are facing post-traumatic stress disorder after the year that feels like a lifetime—and, in many ways, is. Those of us with cancer in our histories are especially susceptible to PTSD, even years after a diagnosis. How do we keep our lives, our communities, our country, and our planet afloat when we’re all hot zones of trauma? READ MORE