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Reconnecting with Nature to help with infertility or stress

This was a guest blog post I wrote for CircleBloom March 2021.

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There is a movement towards the understanding of the mind and body benefits of being in nature. The nature connection movement is not new, yet seems more necessary than ever. Today’s technology and fast-paced lifestyles have overridden much of our innate connection with nature and ourselves. Most of us know that when we are outside we are generally less stressed. Yet we find it hard to bring that with us when we go inside and life’s stressors take over.

When one is trying to get pregnant and finds it isn’t happening in the way they thought it would, it puts them in a state of confusion, stress and sadness. More recent events of pandemic life have amplified this troubling phenomenon and make easing this pressure even harder. Nature teaches, embraces and allows us to shed critical thinking, negative thoughts, and self-doubt. How do we transition ourselves to turn back to what is our natural state? Ecopsychology helps us find our way back to nature. It goes beyond taking a walk, jog, swim, hike or jaunt in the woods. It teaches us to experience ourselves in a whole new way. It helps us relieve stress, anxiety, depression and other psychological maladies in a gentle, loving way. Who wouldn’t want that?

You can take care of yourself, mind, body and soul by reconnecting with and reducing stress through nature. Three steps that can help are; go outside and connect with nature, bring the connection inside, and bring the connection to bed (makes a great bedmate). We can all think of a time when nature healed without being the intent. As Jenn from Connecticut states about coping after miscarriage “I would go to the water and sit on a bench and I felt like everything was going to be okay. The serenity of the outside and looking into the vastness somehow brought a sense of calm and hope and healing to me.” It was able to bring her to the present without all the past pain and future worries. She was able to make a ritual of going to the water and move her through the stages of grief she was experiencing on a daily basis. 

First, go outside and find a comfortable place to connect. This could be your backyard, a park, a balcony, the beach, a tree, pond, creek, or houseplant. Take a moment to send your intention and desire to be in the space. You will know you are welcome when you feel a calmness or some other good sensation. In this moment try to get as comfortable as possible, sit down anywhere you are drawn. If you don’t feel attracted to sitting down, you casually walk around. Do what you feel attracted to do in the moment. What are you most drawn to? Why? Say it outloud or inside your head why this is so attractive to you. You can even stand, sit or move while enjoying the exchanging of breath with the trees. You breathe out and the trees take your air and make oxygen for you to breathe in. Ahhhhh. Stay as long as you desire. When you feel ready to move inside or even to another place go ahead.

Second, once you are back inside you can bring the connection with you. That means validating what you learned about yourself during this time with nature. What were you drawn to while outside? Was it one thing in particular, was it many? What about these things were attractive to you? Remember what you felt while you were outside connecting. Don’t worry, you can go back outside and feel it again. However, you can also remind yourself of all that you experienced throughout the rest of the day. Or you can sit down, breathe in and out and remember the sensations of being outside and connected. You can also sit facing a window as you think about this.

Lastly, when it is time to go to bed, bring the connection with you to sleep. While you are in bed and laying down and comfortable, breathe in and out in an easy slow rhythm as you breathe in your connection experience. Remind yourself about what was so attractive to you. Did it remind you of a wonderful memory from your childhood? Take it to your sleeping mind by thinking about it again and how great it felt. This will help you settle into your sleep and carry over your positive connection.

Every day is a new opportunity to reset and clear what is weighing you down. You simply have to let nature teach and heal. Get outside and go where you feel the pull. Daily nature encounters will help reset your overstressed mind, body and soul.

Reducing stress during the holidays

I am a firm believer in making life simpler.  Never is this harder to do than during the holiday season.  We get so wrapped up in all the action, excitement and hype.  After Halloween the stores have holiday decorations up.  Really?  Two months of being barraged?  Every holiday season seems to come sooner and go by faster.  While there are many stress management techniques, the best way to lower your stress is to change your view of the holidays.  What are your expectations for the holidays and specific celebrations?  Can you scale it down?  Who or what will make it more difficult?  Let’s think about it.

Create new expectations.  Think of one or two things you want the holidays to represent.  Now ask yourself some questions and see if the answers align with what you want the holidays to represent.  Are you hosting all celebrations?  Do you make cookies for everyone you know?  Do you buy gifts for every friend and their kids?  Do you have issues with a particular friend or family member every holiday season?  If what you have done in the past and expect to do this year don’t align with what you want the holidays to represent then things need to change and you have the power to change them.

How will you can scale it down?  What stresses you the most?  How can you make the changes you need in order to enjoy the holidays without the stress?  What traditions do you want to start or continue for your children?  What would never be missed?  Try and scale back everything you can, even something as small as reducing your holiday card mailing list.  Maybe you host less occasions, if you still host serve less food,  or ask people to bring dishes or dessert.  Also you can suggest secret Santas where appropriate.  And if you stress over relationships then focus on one positive thing or conversation you want to have with this person.

Who or what will make these changes difficult to implement? Think about what barriers you will encounter should you decide to change something or scale down?  How can you word your desires to those who really want things the way they have always been?  When talking to others about change be sure you tell them it is about you.  “The way we have been doing things stresses me”, “I need to do this for me”, “please help me do this”.  Create your own mantra and use it everyday when things get out of control.  For example; less is more, I can create calm in my life, this is my choice, I am in control of my life, etc.

Make a plan now!  Discuss it with your spouse or significant other.  Stick to it.  Check in with yourself daily.  If your stress level, on a scale of 0-10 (1-never, 5-somewhat, 10-often/very much) is an 8, 9 or 10, use that mantra!  Take care of yourself!!!!!!  Walk, stretch in your living room, meditate for 5 minutes a day or more to decrease stress.  If you continue to feel overwhelmed and cannot shake the anxiety or depression seek help from a professional.

Lenore Pranzo, MA, LMFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Redding, CT with a private practice in her home and is a mother of 5 year old twin boys. She works with couples, teens, groups and individuals on issues including substance abuse, fertility, anxiety, depression, marital strain, and stress management.