Being a caretaker for a loved one can be a rewarding experience, but it can also bring feelings of loneliness. We spent the month of February talking about loneliness and the Think Caregiver™ Simple ‘Self-Care’ Suggestions helped with those feelings. We also talked about being alone versus loneliness and then the word, solitude entered the conversation.
After my dad died in 2005, I struggled with feelings of loneliness. I could be in a room surrounded by people, with love and attention, but still feel completely lonely. I retreated to nature as a way to heal. In and with nature, I found peace. For me, it wasn’t about being alone, it was about understanding what grief did to my soul. To this day, when I am feeling overwhelmed with tasks, technology and noise, I prefer to escape somewhere, preferably nature, and just experience solitude. It offers a place of separateness from everything coming at me. A temporary restorative place to remove myself, even if it is for “just 10 minutes”.
Resiliency is needed to help with loneliness. So how does one use nature to build resiliency? I think it begins with evaluating our strength and looking into nature to see what radiates strength. We then need to look at what helps us stay anchored and grounded when the storms of life bend us almost to the point of breaking. The ever-changing landscape and how well we adapt to change is important to know about ourselves. Being strong builds resilience and we need resilience to help with loneliness. Below are some ways in which you can engage with nature.
- Spending time in nature can have a calming and grounding effect, helping to relieve stress and anxiety.
- Connect with nature: Engage in activities like hiking, gardening, or birdwatching to deepen your connection with the natural world.
- Seek inspiration from nature: Observe the beauty, resilience, and adaptability of nature, and let it inspire you to be more resilient and adaptable yourself.
- Practice gratitude: Reflect on the beauty and abundance of the natural world, and practice gratitude for the gifts it offers us.
- Use nature as a source of renewal: Use time in nature as a way to recharge your batteries, letting its energy and vitality refresh and revitalize you.
- Incorporate nature into your daily life: Find ways to bring elements of nature into your home, workplace, or daily routine, such as indoor plants, natural light, and outdoor spaces.
- Seek a sense of belonging: Join a nature-based community or group, such as a hiking or gardening club, to connect with others who share your love of the natural world.
By using the resiliency of nature as a source of inspiration and support, we can help build our own resilience and find meaning and connection, even when we’re feeling lonely. Looking into the natural world, you can begin to see many examples of resilience and adaptation, such as the ability of a tree to stand tall after senescence. This is because trees have deep roots that anchor them to the ground and help them withstand the forces of nature. They also have a system of growth and renewal that allows them to replace old and damaged parts with new ones. Trees adapt to change remarkably well and are strong with flexible stems and branches that bend, but don’t break, in the face of strong winds and storms. These characteristics of trees can serve as a metaphor for our own resilience in the face of challenges, reminding us that we too can adapt, grow and stand tall in the feelings of loneliness.
Executive & Clinical Director