Welcome to the new blog series "wellbeing". Here I interview and introduce you to inspiring people doing interesting things that can connect to our mental wellbeing. Today, I'm excited for you to meet Jessica of ReWild Wellness.
My name is Jessica Spooner and I am an avid outdoor enthusiast! This passion has helped to shape my work as a Wilderness Guide, Forest Therapy Guide, and Nature-led Life Coach. I offer these programs through a company called Rewild Wellness.
When did you first start spending time outside and what sparked your passion for the outdoors and reconnecting people with nature?
I feel lucky to say that I was a child in the 80s. I say this because my parents would tell me to go outside and play and to come home when the street lights turned on! I remember biking around the neighbourhood, playing in the woods outside of this same neighbourhood, and playing marbles on the grassy cul-de-sac.
My family also had a small trailer in a campground. Amazingly, my family is still in the same campground 33 years later! It’s our mini-cottage. This experience has shaped my whole love for being outside. I would spend summers running around barefoot, swimming in Lake Ontario, hiding in the cedar trees, and just laying out under the stars. Even though everyone in this campground knew whose child I was, I felt unsupervised and this gave me a sense of freedom and wonder!
What is your favourite way to spend time outside?
My favourite ways to be outside are on a canoe paddling across a calm lake in the fall, biking through the countryside, and simply hanging out in the forest with no agenda.
Why do you think the outdoors is so important to our overall mental wellbeing?
Essentially, we ARE nature. From our first appearance on earth, we have been inseparable from the natural world. It is only in the last 75 years that we have started to spend more and more time indoors. Today, we spend approx. 90% of our time indoors! Of course, this is prior to the current pandemic conditions. This disconnection from the outdoors and our natural world, has had incredible impacts on our health and wellbeing. Research continues to show that spending at least 15-20 minutes in a natural setting can lower your blood pressure, stabilize negative mood patterns, improve sleep, enhance memory, increase ability to focus, and offers us a place of belonging.
What can we do when we are feeling stressed, anxious, or not like ourselves? How can nature help?
One of the best ways to help with feelings of stress, anxiety, and general imbalance is to spend some time outside! Our minds get so caught up in all of the chaos of our lives and the world around us. It has become increasingly difficult to shut this ‘monkey brain’ off for a while and just chill. What the natural world offers us, is a place to put those busy thoughts down for a little while. By spending intentional time outside, we engage our involuntary attention and our other senses (smell, sound, touch, taste, sight) are put to use. We aren’t focussing on anything in particular, which gives our brains a rest.
The pace of nature is...well, natural. By giving ourselves some time outside(120 minutes/week is optimal), we ourselves begin to operate at a more natural pace. Simply give yourself permission to spend time outdoors for your health!
I frequently speak about one of the biggest mental health challenges is actually doing the things you know are good for you (like going outside) when you aren’t in a positive headspace - these things can really feel like a mountain sometimes and it’s easy to make excuses to NOT do them. Do you have any tips to make getting outside a little easier for all of us?
It would be a wonderful world if everyone engaged with the outdoors as naturally as we eat, sleep, move our bodies, and drink water! Honestly, we need all of it to live.
If you find yourself in a place where going for a walk is just too much (it happens for so many), simply try any or all of the below:
Sit on your front porch or balcony.
Sit by an open window and gaze at the world.
Bring nature in, by nurturing houseplants.
Diffuse natural scents such as cedar or balsam fir essential oils
Listen to soothing nature sounds. Bird songs are incredible for focus!
Make sure that you have good clothing for the outdoors (rain jacket, warm boots, hats, mitts, etc.)
Start SMALL! Give yourself a manageable goal of 20 minutes outside 3 times a week and then grow from there!
If you do go outdoors, try to keep your phone on silent. Truly bring attention and intention to this time.
These are some of the ways that nature can support you, simply.
Where can we find you and learn more about you?
I can be found on my website RewildWellness.ca
Hope you enjoyed the first post in the "Wellbeing" series.
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