Let Nature Ease Your Stress & Rejuvenate Your Spirit

View of Glen Lake from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan.

This morning I watched three downy white swans glide on the crystalline surface of a small lake in northern Michigan.

I’m on vacation this week near Glen Arbor. The town is located northeast of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a picturesque waterfront spot named “Most Beautiful Place in America” by ABC’s “Good Morning America” in 2011.

I can see Glen Lake’s sandy bottom through the vibrant aqua waters. It’s reminiscent of the Caribbean, except that I’m about 275 miles northwest of Detroit’s busy downtown and urban core.

The lush, green hills rise from the banks of Big Glen Lake and Little Glen Lake, meeting a clear sky as blue as a robin’s egg. Meanwhile, the sandy shores of massive Lake Michigan are just a stone’s throw away.

Views are stunning all around.

The breathtaking environment lowers my blood pressure and stress from my caregiving duties. It also fosters awe and gratitude.

Feeling Stressed and Drained

I’m a full-time caregiver to my 18-year-old daughter Elizabeth who has cerebral palsy. Her condition severely impaired her physically and mentally, and she is confined to a wheelchair.

Her immobility means I’m pretty much confined as well. Her care requires most of my energy. If you’’re caring for a loved one with mesothelioma, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Freedom seems a distant memory. You’re on a revolving cycle of doctor appointments and escalating exhaustion makes you wonder if you can soldier through another day.

You’’re stressed and emotionally drained.

Although I’m in a peaceful and natural setting, I’m not away from Elizabeth this week. She is here on vacation with my husband and me.

My caregiving continues, but the change of scenery has shifted the perspective on my duties.

The Soothing Nature of Nature

I collected my thoughts and wrote this while sitting at the water’s edge in the sunlight. The chirping of birds and the gentle lapping of the water on the shore are the only sounds I hear.

Earlier, I took a leisurely bike ride to town while my husband stayed with our daughter. I rode on a country road sandwiched between the serene blue-green lake on one side, and a wooded forest filled with gorgeous white birch trees on the other.

The other day I went on a stroll and picked a bouquet of bright pink wildflowers. I brought the delicate flowers back to our cottage and placed them in a vase to enjoy their beauty on the dining room table.

I shared the area’s solitude and splendor with Elizabeth, too. I walked with her while she rode on her large tricycle down a quiet road. A tawny-colored doe and her lovely, speckled fawn crossed fearlessly in front of us. They paused and watched us as they entered the woods. We also stopped to enjoy the rare moment.

Nature instills a sense of peace like a refreshing healing balm.

My husband and I decided to share caregiving responsibilities during our vacation so we can enjoy some alone time. I’m still putting in plenty of caregiving time, but I feel refreshed and rejuvenated in this idyllic setting.

I’m tranquil, despite dressing, feeding, bathing, toileting and entertaining Elizabeth.

Healing Powers of Nature

I believe in a creator, and I believe the beauty of nature serves a purpose — our enjoyment.

The sounds of nature, its colors, smells and textures all contribute to the sense of inner peace nature instills.

In fact, environmental psychologists say colors influence human emotion and behavior. Environmental Psychologist Sally Augustin, Ph.D., told Forbes that green seems to bring a “positive association between nature and regrowth.” Its emotional properties also include acceptance, trust and admiration.

Yellow is associated with serenity and joy. Meanwhile, blue brings a sense of amazement, surprise and distraction.

Taking all that into consideration, it’s no wonder I feel so serene and inspired among the trees, sunlight and sparkling water of Glen Arbor.

If you’’re feeling confined, depleted or worn out from your caregiving role, take some time to visit a park, botanical garden, walk along a trail, head to the beach or a lake.

Put your feet in the water.

Drink in the blue sky.

Listen intently as the birds chirp in the morning.

Go to a place that holds memories or one that you long for.

If you can’t get away overnight, then go for a day or an afternoon.

Finding Nature When You Can’t Get Away

I enjoy nature at my home, too, even though I live in the suburbs.

You can usually find vases throughout my house filled with whatever grows in my yard. An emerald-green hosta leaf cut and placed in one of my vintage bottles above the kitchen sink brings a smile to my face.

I’m delighted when the breeze blows through the open window in my bedroom and softly ripples the sheer drapes. I feel a spring in my step when I admire the generous clusters of hydrangeas encircling the house’s foundation.

I pause when I look at my dad’s homegrown ripe red tomatoes lined up on my windowsill. They remind me of little round soldiers.

Nature gives me hope that everything will be OK. It doesn’t matter if I’m experiencing nature in its grandest forms, such as Big Lake Glen, or in its tiniest incarnations like the pruned leaves in my vases.

It’s always there for you and me to enjoy — and it’s beautiful.

  1. Morin, A. (2014, February 4). How To Use Color Psychology To Give Your Business An Edge. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/02/04/how-to-use-color-psychology-to-give-your-business-an-edge/
  2. Orso, A. and Parise, S. (2011, August 17). Sleeping Bear Dunes Voted 'Most Beautiful Place in America.' Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/best_places_USA/sleeping-bear-dunes-michigan-voted-good-morning-americas/story?id=14319616

Beth Swantek has been writing professionally for 30 years. She is a former news reporter and anchor for a CBS affiliate in Michigan and often reported breaking medical and political news. Currently, she teaches media writing and video production at Lawrence Technological University in the Detroit area, as well as working as a freelance writer and producer.

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