I’m disturbed by the observation of the decline of places that are open to people who need help with their mental healthcare. Healthcare overall is suffering funding issues and has for years but the biggest loser of healthcare has been mental healthcare. With our tech heavy sedentary lives coupled with the growing substance abuse and depression has resulted in self-destruction and senseless violence that has increasingly touched more lives. So what do you do? Take steps in your life and not only be the proprietor of your physical health but mental health as well.
I am not a professional psychologist by any stretch, but I know what helps me cope and that is getting outside and away from stressful things in my life. Photography has been that vehicle in which I use to get out and create images of nature. Finding subjects to create images from, is just half of the therapy with the other half being away from the noise, the electronics, and being surrounded by nature. I know that if I don’t get out on a regular basis I tend to get restless, irritable, and not too fun to be around. Prolonged absents from my favorite activities tend to eat at my motivation and desire to create while increasing my want to just sit and do nothing.
You don’t have to take up photography or a heavy physical activity to enjoy nature, just get out. I find the best way to start is to grab a friend and go somewhere you haven’t been before or in a long time. For me, exploring a new place is great distraction from the problems of the day. And discovery of new things along with the walking more than five feet seems to release the endorphins I need to better my mood. Once you have found a place that you enjoy, make it a part of a daily or weekly routine to visit. By establishing a routine of getting outside into nature you are taking charge of both your physical and mental healthcare in once simple activity.
In conjunction with getting out into nature, you could also surround yourself with nature in art form. Photographs, paintings and drawings of nature in your house can help you in between the times you are out experiencing it. By googling “Nature Art and Healing” you will find countless articles written by doctors of medicine and physiology of the effects nature and images of nature has on the healing process. I have observed in the two hospitals I’ve visited the number of nature related images have grown over the years.
Mental along with physical health is important enough for us to make it a part of our daily route. I see too many people in the ER who could have avoided it had they taken the initiative with their health. There are situations that medical intervention must occur but doing things before that benefit your health both mentally and physically will mitigate the more severe problems later down the road. So start by simply getting off your couch and take a walk in your favorite park. Whether it is in your neighborhood or one of the many state parks we have, just start now. And if you are looking for a park, visit Kepler State Park, it is one of my favorite places to be.