How Getting Fresh Air is Therapeutic
You might not typically think that fresh air equals therapy but let me explain. When my sister passed away, it was March. March in Utah equals snow LOTS of powder which is a good thing if you enjoy spending time outdoors playing in said snow but when I received the devastating news that my sister had taken her life, the day before my birthday, I didn’t really want to go outside.
In fact, all I wanted to do was cry alone in my bedroom but being alone wasn’t an option for me. You see, I had my daughter who was three years old at the time of my sister’s passing. She needed me to get her breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Regardless of how I was feeling on a given day or moment.
My daughter wanted me to play Barbies with her still. She wanted me to go build a snowman in the freshly laid snow I still needed to be her mom. Because even though my heart was broken, she NEEDED me. But I learned something that was so important during those first couple of months after my sister’s passing, the power of letting nature into the healing process. Yes, it was cold and chilly outside during the months of March, April, and even into May. Depending on the season, it was either snowing, raining, or sunny outside. Or if you have lived in Utah for any length of time as I have, you are fortunate to get all 3 different sorts of weather in a given day sometimes. It is exciting, let me tell you. Heck, it even snowed in July one year!
I digress. But simply being outdoors in the weather, braving the elements as they say, became something that I not only craved physically but emotionally as well. I began to notice a subtle shift when I hadn’t gone outside that day. Granted, I wasn’t running or training for a marathon, but stretching and moving my body cleared my mind from all the GUNK that stuck inside my head. Often, I would go for walks with our dogs.
Or, if my daughter and husband wanted to tag along, we would make it a family outing. We would go to a nearby park or playground and enjoy being around each other. Funny story, but my daughter has always LOVED being outdoors.
Even to this day, she begs me to go outside and play. Like I said earlier, she doesn’t mind what kind of weather it is either. Rain, Snow, Sunny, Overcast, HOT, Cold, It doesn’t make a difference. She wants to be outside in it.
But I also noticed that when I was outside enjoying the weather and a change of scenery, I was able to let my thoughts come and go. Like the clouds in the sky. I would have a thought, and I could either let it “float by” or I could try to work through it. This reminds me, that having a change in scenery, is another added benefit to letting nature heal you from the outside, inward. For example, I had mentioned my birthday and my sister passed away in the month of March. It was snowy, icy, and downright cold to be outside.
But I forced myself, on more than one occasion, to be outdoors and use it as a way to begin my own healing after losing my sister to suicide. As I would walk, I would take deep, long breaths of air into my lungs. It was cold as it entered my throat. Tiny icicles would form on my nose hairs (TMI), as I continued to trek through the snow Our lab named Meesha loved it (the snow) But our 16 year-old Jack Russell/ Beagle terrier named Shorty, not so much. In the spring of that same year of my sister’s passing (2019), new life began all around singing in the change of the seasons. Birds were chirping, Tulips bloomed in all their springtime glory, snow was melting I remember thinking to myself, “Crystal, use this time of year (spring) to continue to use nature as a tool for my grief.” To cry, if I needed to shed my tears laugh, if something or someone made me laugh. (AKA, Ava or my husband) Shouting at the wind if I needed to release pent-up anger.
But I think the thing that allowed me to experience the most transformation in terms of my healing, was to be present in the moment outside. Yes, I’m sure I don’t need to explain what you probably already know.
BUT when I was outside and enjoying the season or the weather, that meant technology stayed indoors and at home. AKA my phone. Why? Because as trial and error would have it, when my phone was in my hands or on my arm,(because I have one of those arm bands that holds my phone)
I wasn’t present, I became distracted and unable to focus, slightly agitated if I’m honest. Annoyed even at times. So I took a stand, and said, “NOPE, sorry phone, you get to stay here.” “I am going to enjoy this time without you. Too bad, not so sad.” You know what? It was worth it, EVERY TIME.
If you need a place to start your own healing after suicide, I use an app called Trails that shows you all the different trails that are nearby. The cool part is it even lets you know how difficult it is in terms of how challenging the trail is. It even has the option of narrowing down to “family friendly” hikes. HUGE Fan! Check it out if you need some inspiration to get out there and enjoy the great outdoors. Invite the outdoors into your spirit as you begin to heal.
For more information about suicide prevention be sure to check www.owlandthistle.com and if you want to find helpful tips, information, and tools if you lost a loved one to suicide or had a suicide attempt please visit www.scatteringhope.com.
Crystal Partney 💜