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    I Tried Nature Therapy And I Recommend It To Anyone Who Loves The Outdoors And Peace Of Mind

    Therapy is one of my favorite forms of self-care.

    Hey, hey! My name is Jasmine, and I have been going to therapy on and off for about two years.

    A young woman with short hair smiles with her eyes closed as the sun hits her face.
    BuzzFeed / Via Jasmine Vaughn-Hall

    I say on and off because once the pandemic hit, I stopped because I didn't know if I would be able to afford it. I made sure that when I did my benefits for work the next time around, that they actually covered my sessions. Ultimately, it's money automatically coming out of your check every two weeks, so make sure it's doing what you want it to. 

    In the past, I've talked about a trick I learned in therapy to help with self-doubt. Now I've got another therapy-inspired post for ya. 

    This year, my therapist told me about nature-informed therapy and offered to try it with me. PS: I love nature, especially bodies of water.

    @charmladonna / Via giphy.com

    My therapist recommended several locations. I live on the East Coast, so winter limited certain places we could go. I'm excited to give this a try again in the spring and summer. 

    Outside is outside, though. I had to sign some forms because being out and about can be unpredictable, and all parties needed to know that neither were responsible for injuries, etc. 

    What is nature-informed therapy? Here's how it was described to me — nature-informed therapy is a form of clinical counseling that integrates the healing properties of the natural world into mental health treatment. It can take any form — guided walks or hikes with your therapist, doing physical activities in a group, working with animals, and so on. For my first session, my therapist and I decided to try a walk in a nearby park.

    A person is standing on grass that is coated with different leaves.
    BuzzFeed / Via Jasmine Vaughn-Hall

    I made sure I wore comfortable shoes, and surprisingly it was a rather warm December afternoon. There was so much to see and hear at the park, but we didn't hop right into things. My therapist and I found a bench near a pond, and we sat in silence for about two minutes. 

    I usually have therapy every other Monday. It starts my week off with some self-reflection and insight.  

    I felt very much in my element and peaceful, and started talking about the things that stuck out to me. Then, it was time for us to start moving. My therapist let me take the lead, and we walked around the pond and weaved in and out of trees.

    @NoireSteminist / Via giphy.com

    I was very comfortable, and I couldn't help but to start drawing metaphors from the nature doing its thing around me. My therapist didn't force me to talk about anything I didn't want to, and there was no wrong or right answer when I was explaining how seeing these things made me feel. 

    I was a little nervous that I'd be too busy looking at things that I wouldn't talk, but the conversation seemed so natural (go figure). Before our session, I couldn't really remember the last time I walked and talked openly outside.

    I was intentional and took it all in. I was noticing the most interesting details about everyday things, and it was a refreshing reminder to stop and be present. Here's a video that gives you a taste of those relaxing natural sounds:

    View this video on YouTube

    Healing Nature & Meditation / Via youtube.com

    The session was eclectic. We also talked about things that weren't nature-focused, and the change of environment and little exercise really got the blood flowing. 

    Our session lasted about 45 minutes, and we wrapped up with some final thoughts and a short walk back to the office.

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    Of course, I spent most of the walk back to the office chatting about how I couldn't wait until the next opportunity to do that again. One of my love languages really is bodies of water and being outside, so it was nice to pour into that for part of my day. 

    Again, I really enjoyed the experience, and I think outdoor lovers would really get a kick out of how much you relate nature to yourself, especially when you're immersed in it.

    A young woman is looking away from the computer against a blue sky.
    BuzzFeed / Via Jasmine Vaughn-Hall

    I've done quite a bit of in-person therapy that took place in an office. If I had to choose, I prefer nature therapy. For me, it felt very casual, and it was easier for me to talk about myself (yes, that's hard for me!) because I was tremendously comfortable with the environment. 

    Don't get me wrong — I love my therapist, so I enjoy speaking with her in her office or outside. The big difference for me is that being outside allowed us both to engage with what was around us instead of staring at each other from across a coffee table. It added a flare I needed and will do again.