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  • Writer's pictureRobert Loewendick

Outside for the Health Of It

Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation; an irregular heartbeat. The diagnosis was a gut punch. This type of news plays on the mind and raises doubts about the future – both mine and my family’s. I was placed on several medications and eventually surgery, the months following the doctor’s verdict was mentally and physically stressing. A therapy of sorts that worked to calm me down when breathing and mobility were a struggle - a strange state for me and my active lifestyle, was to spend as much time as possible outside and tuned to the natural world and its rhythm.

Many studies and surveys have confirmed the numerous benefits of spending time outdoors. If you’re a regular visitor to the natural world, you’re already aware of the stress relieving abilities waiting outside. Physical and mental healths are connected, and as I mentioned above, both are improved when immersed in a natural setting. Whether stressed over a hard day at work, or dealing with a life-threatening issue, walking or sitting outside will assist in breaking through the mental fog. Less thinking and dwelling on the problem and gaining more acceptance of what you can change and cannot will materialize.

Have you really listened to water flowing through a stream, falling short drops into pools before leaving the pool to continue its journey? I mean really listen. Just listen and watch, avoid thinking about where the water came from or where it’s going. Simply sit calmly and watch. And listen – not with your ears, but with your mind.

During my brief hospital stay after heart surgery, I noticed the green area outside the hospital, a park-like setting, was an attractant. Seemed as if any patient who could and was allowed to leave their room, would levitate to the natural spot. As if the natural elements of the park such as trees, flower gardens, grass, and water gardens were calling the ailing patients to come and join them. Yes, it seemed and felt natural, calming. While there, sitting and listening to the birds bouncing about and the water falling into its man-made pool, the thoughts of the scars and mental stress were non-existent. Things were much more pleasant outside. Outside where I belonged. Outside where we all should visit regularly and connect to the natural world to reduce stress in our lives and improve our health.

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