When I’m dealing with racing thoughts, mania, or depression, going into nature—the local beach or nearby woods—calms my mind and soothes my soul.
Racing Thoughts, My Nonstop Bipolar Symptom
My world is so busy. There are so many things going on, and my brain is all over the place.
There is work, which occupies most of my day.
Then there is home, with its own responsibilities that swirl through my mind: What to cook for dinner for the week? I need to go to the grocery store first.
Then the cleaning: What needs to be cleaned? And when will I have time? (My husband does all of the laundry and dishes, and I am forever grateful for that. I am lucky that these tasks are not on my mind!)
On top of that, I need to look after myself, too: When will I have time to relax? To sleep in? And—ugh, my nails look terrible! I should get my nails done….
My brain is doing this over and over and over. Racing thoughts that I can’t shut off.
Throw in a mood swing and it’s a chaotic mess.
Are you the same? Does your brain run a million miles an hour on a normal day?
The question is, then, How do we calm our minds and our souls so we can stop and smell the roses?
I live in Florida, on the gulf coast. This means I have the saltwater close by, and I am only a few hours away from woods.
The best medicine, for me, is to be in nature. It doesn’t matter if I am depressed or manic. Nature works wonders to calm my soul and mind.
Finding Depression Relief in the Sea
Saltwater has an amazing effect on the body and mind. In the past, whenever we would go out of town for a while and then get close to home, we could smell the saltwater.
The smell of saltwater is home. I know that might not make sense, but when you’re used to it and you don’t have it, you miss it. For me, it’s a clear sign we are home.
Being on the water or near the water, like the beach, brings a calm to my body that I hope I can explain. (It probably has a lot to do with the sun and all that vitamin D it produces.) But I feel so good!
If I am depressed and I make myself go to the beach, I feel 100 times better.
Of course, the hardest part is making myself go. But, once I am there, the sun feels like it’s slowly withdrawing the depression from my skin.
If you can imagine a puppet being pulled up by its strings and coming to “life,” that is exactly how I feel!
Also, the saltwater is a recharger for me. The water is usually always warm, and it heals all the aches and pains that depression has caused my body. You know, those pains and the achiness that have no reason to be there? But they are there, and they don’t seem to go away?
The water feels soft on my skin. My body feels relaxed, and so do my joints.
It’s an amazing feeling that happens quickly.
Now—I know this is probably the oddest thing you have ever heard—but I love the taste of saltwater! Yes, it tastes like saltwater, but it just tastes good to me. No, I don’t drink it, and I would never suggest that, but just a little taste on my tongue, and I am in heaven.
The saltwater is soothing to the soul, and the warm sun kisses my skin to remind me that I am OK. Everything will be OK.
Being in the Woods Eases My Manic Mood
A place that is just as important to me is the forest. Being in the middle of the woods, with no one around but a few people, has a different effect on me.
The woods bring me back down to earth and calm my manic mood.
I like to hike and will spend hours doing so. Walking around and viewing all that God has created brings me back down to earth.
The woods help me realize that life can have a calm side. My mind stops rushing and spinning from my manic brain.
The world seems to slow down, and I am able to breathe.
The best time to start a hike, for me, is at sunrise or sunset. You get to experience the world come to life, and then you experience the world calmly going to bed. Furthermore, looking up at the stars at night gives me a sense of magnification.
I live in the city, so the light pollution takes away our ability to see all the stars. I am grateful to look up into a big, black sky and see the stars shining down on me so brightly.
Being in the woods makes me feel like I am a part of it. Like I am part of the magic.
Nature Helps Restore My “Normal” Mood
Being able to bring myself back to my “normal” state of mind is not always easy. However, experiencing the outdoors helps to heal my current mood.
I enjoy these experiences when I am not depressed or manic, too. Being outside, either swimming at the beach or hiking in the woods, offers a calmness my soul needs and enjoys.
Jessica Walker lives in the Tampa Bay area. She has an MBA from Western Governors University and a BS in accounting from the University of South Florida. She was diagnosed with bipolar II in 2016, at age 35. She has been with the love of her life for almost two decades. A corporate accountant who found her passion for this career in 2004, Jessica is also an avid outdoorsman. She loves Jesus and spending time with her family. Her hope is to shine a light on living with bipolar from what she has learned.
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