When in doubt: turn to nature

By Malgorzata Piechowicz-Pietruszka

In this uncertain time when nobody knows what the next day will bring it is so easy to lose our sense of stability and let fear and anxiety rule our behaviours.  The COVID-19, that the whole world is now trying to battle, has caused the unprecedented, at least during my generation’s lifetime, situation. It has brought countries and individuals to a standstill. It seems that no matter if you are sick or healthy the virus makes taking a deep breath difficult, if not impossible.

All of us have different ways of dealing with a crisis. I know some who started to hoard food while panicking about a potential apocalypse. Others try to laugh it off as if denying facts would shield them from the reality. My way is to turn to nature. As all mothers,  our Mother Nature has the ability to bring us solace, comfort and take care of us by boosting our immune system when we most need it. There is plenty of scientific research, easily accessible, that proves the immense impact of nature on our physical and mental health. It seems that even a 20-minute walk in nature, be it a park, forest, beach or a garden,  can significantly benefit out bodies and minds, reducing the stress levels and thus ameliorating the general state of our well-being. For me it has always been the first place I turned to when facing a situation or a problem that at first seems unsolvable, and I was never failed. However, in the light of the new decisions made by the Omani government to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, the access to natural places such as beaches, wadis and hiking trails is now very limited. Gatherings in any of these places is now strictly prohibited, so is there any way we can still benefit from what nature has to offer? According to the most recent science – yes. If you are lucky enough to have your own garden, go outside and look at your plants. Simply observing the slow motion of the leaves, the busy lives of ants or listening to the buzzing bees has a calming effect that we all urgently need right now. Even watering and touching your house plants can have a soothing effect on your nerves, especially after reading another story on the pandemia. It does not have to be anything grand as long as it has something to do with a living plant or a creature. What is even better news for those who were not born with green fingers is that apparently watching a documentary on wilderness, where flora and fauna are the main characters, activates the same areas in our brains as if nature in a real life would. This might be a good way of spending family time while practising social distancing or being in quarantine. I strongly recommend this form of ‘therapy’ and if it sounds too dubious or unpersuasive – think twice: is there anything to lose?  Our children can only learn interesting facts about our Planet Earth. In fact, we -adults can learn too. Why not rediscovering the beauty and uniqueness of our natural surroundings.  It has been a long time since we marveled the sheer existence of Nature and us being a part of it. Immersed and infatuated with technology we have become a new species of indoors creatures who lost touch with the most primeval of our needs – the need to connect with Mother Nature. Perhaps this is the time to reach out and soothe our racing minds, anxious souls and sick bodies. I am going to try.