How nature helps bring acceptance of life’s ups and downs

Sophie attended a Blue Prescribing workshop at London Wetland Centre. She signed up to help her come to terms with a diagnosis of a neurological disorder which was having a huge impact on both her physical and mental health. She says connecting with nature has given her the confidence to face the future with hope and acceptance.

What was your life like before you came on the course?

I felt scared, unsure, and isolated. I’d always been someone who likes to make the most of opportunities and experiences and to find joy in the world around me. But for a time, my diagnosis took that away from me. I was struggling to come to terms with it and I wasn’t sure what sort of future I had anymore.

I have a lot of physical symptoms including tremors and seizures as part of my neurological condition which I was finding hard to adjust to. They also meant I had to stay at home for periods of time. So, I was becoming anxious about going out and was unsure of how to manage my symptoms in the wider world. I was losing confidence and closing myself off quite a bit and this was impacting my mental health.

How did you benefit from attending the course?

It reminded me just how much I need to be outside and engaging with nature. It really helped being outside and connecting with the natural world. Whether that’s the plants or the birds. There’s always something. For that reason, you’re never really alone.

Plus being with others in a safe space and talking about my experiences and feelings really gave me my confidence back.

How does being in nature help you?

I got a lot of comfort from knowing that what I was going through could be seen as part of a much bigger picture. I was just part of one of nature’s cycles. No-one’s ever going to be happy and in bloom all the time. Just like the natural world, there will be seasons of brightness and joy and times of gloom and darkness. And it’s okay to feel these different emotions. It’s all part of life’s rich tapestry. And you will come out the other side.

Can you give me an example?

Since the project I’ve been growing strawberries. I have a stacking tower and I could see the ones at the top were getting most of the water and light. They were growing better, while the ones at the bottom were struggling. I’ve realised I need to look after them more, so they could get what they needed too. And through this I’ve realised I need to look after myself more and prioritise my own self-care.

How has this stronger connection left you better equipped to deal with your day-to-day challenges?

I feel my connection with nature is now so strong, I can tap into it whenever I want to and however I’m feeling. Even if I can’t leave the house. Whether that’s just opening the door to see the birds, looking through the window, or tending my pots on my balcony.

Now I notice even the small changes in nature. Like the different colours and smells. It helps so much to really engage in everything around me with all my senses. As I stop to look at the different leaves and creatures, I’m now able to stop and look at my own life and feelings in the same way. It’s given me the power to make changes. I’m calmer, more at peace and better able to tackle my problems on a day-to-day basis.

Did you have a favourite activity?

I really enjoyed making bug hotels, where I got to be creative and hands on. We were just getting stuck in and collecting all sorts of different natural materials. We were learning about what was around us and using our senses to explore the different materials we were using. And it was fantastic to put it all together to make a bug hotel. I really am so grateful that I've been able to give back to nature, when it has given me so much.

Is there anything about the project you’d like to share?

The Blue Prescribing course has really transformed my life. It’s given me the confidence to engage with the world around me again. It’s given me such a great boost; at a time when I was feeling really isolated and I needed it the most.

It’s difficult to bounce back when things get tough. You have to show a lot of strength and resilience. Sometimes it’s hard to pull that out of nowhere. This course has given me the foundations to find that strength. It’s shown me that there’s such a big world out there and I don’t want to shut myself off from it. There’s always something to look at, to explore, to experience, and I want to be part of it.

Whatever worries I’m experiencing, I’m now so much better equipped to look for those moments of joy and pleasure in nature. It means I can be at peace with the situations I find myself in.

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