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Lessons from Nature about Anxiety

Updated: Feb 26


An individual seeking nature therapy for anxiety in Colorado.

Is disorder the same as disorganized?


One fundamental lesson we can derive from nature is the distinction between disorder and being disorganized. On the surface, you may think they are more or less the same. Yet, if you can find distinction in how you define them, you may find value in your everyday life.


What's the deal with disorder?

We usually define disorder as a state of chaos or lack of harmony. Well, that sounds stressful. Further, elements are arranged in a disorganized manner and often we consider them detrimental in manner. Potentially leading to feelings of anxiety


So then, what about disorganization?

On the other hand, being disorganized implies a temporary state of being unstructured or lacking in organization, without necessarily indicating a negative impact. I believe we all can relate to the feeling of being disorganized. It can lead to temporary overwhelm or confusion.

If you do nothing about your feelings and become activated or triggered, it may be difficult to find your lay of the land or become grounded. If you can soothe the feelings, you can usually reorient yourself to understand the system you see as mixed up or unorderly and seek to understand the purpose of the arrangement.


In Nature, seek and you shall find!


So, can there be success in disorganization? Can a field with what appears to be a random arrangement of trees, grasses, wildflowers, ant hills, bee hives, bird nests, and burrows make sense and positively serve living beings?


Spontaneous Nature, I appreciate ya


An individual seeking nature therapy for anxiety.

The irregular arrangement of plants in a wildflower field. What a visually appealing and diverse landscape. Oh My! It showcases the beauty of spontaneity and the absence of rigid structures. Similarly, we can find beauty in the disorganized patterns of water currents.

How about the unpredictable movements of wildlife? You are sitting in a meadow and all a sudden you hear honking. A flock of geese appears in the sky and reminds you of the opportunity in the present. To be present. Nature teaches you that embracing a certain level of disorganization can lead to unexpected joys and surprises.


Creativity in moments of spontaneous opportunity


Your ability to adapt to unknown situations and experiences can be a real source of accomplishment and satisfaction. 


What does that look like?

Ah, the successful application of self-expression. Sometimes self-expression looks like applying your organizational skills to a closet, hitting a home run from a slider pitch, getting past the mental wall during a walk, run, jog, or hike. Sometimes it’s coming up with a last-minute meal with what's lying around in the cabinets.


It might be singing a favorite song or making a silly face at a child. It might be hiking 2 miles in the wrong direction, only to find the most stunning view and the most beautiful herd of elk drinking from a mountain pond. 


Success in the moment can lead to a more positive view of self


When we engage in conscious or unconscious moments of self-expression, it may lead to success. You often feel very good when it goes that way. And that leads to a longer-term pattern of belief in yourself and a positive outlook. But what if you cut off yourself from the opportunity to practice?


Of course, it's not all roses and sunshine.

I appreciate moments when I see a space about 2-5 years after a fire. Not that I am happy there was a fire, but to see how life bounces back after the disruption. What a treat to see little blades of grass and saplings reaching through the burnt char. To scoop up some ground and see worms and insects making new homes. 


Parallels for life a’plenty


Drawing parallels between disorder and disorganization can provide valuable insights for managing anxiety. Anxiety often manifests as a perceived lack of control over our thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. By recognizing that disorder and being disorganized is not inherently negative, you can reframe your perspective on anxiety. What better place to see it all on display than nature?


Control or perception of control?


An individual seeking nature therapy to heal from anxiety.

Sometimes you cling to feeling in control. And sometimes that can be supportive. Other times it can limit your access to creative opportunities, exploration, and understanding of your whole self. Rather than striving for absolute order and control in your life, nature can support a widened perspective


How?

You can accept the occasional introduction of disorganization with curiosity and interest. As a natural part of the human experience. Just as nature finds harmony amidst disorder, you too can learn to navigate the turbulent waters of anxiety and find inner peace.


Resilience. Yes, please!


Observing nature teaches you the importance of adaptability and resilience. Ecosystems demonstrate remarkable resilience in the face of adversity. They are constantly adapting and evolving to survive in environments that are constantly changing.


Similarly, individuals dealing with anxiety can learn from nature's ability to bounce back from disruption. By adopting a flexible mindset and developing coping mechanisms, you can cultivate the resilience needed to overcome the challenges associated with anxiety.


Need help getting the process started?


No problem. If going out into nature on your own sounds overwhelming, you're not alone. And you don't have to be. We have a group for this very purpose, the Ecotherapy Anxiety Group. Feel free to contact us for more information!


How We Can Help

If you are interested in incorporating nature therapy into your counseling journey...


Contact us today to learn more!



If you are looking for general support, or if you would like to talk to someone more about how we can help you, follow these simple steps:

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Author Biography

Justin Norton, a therapist at Catalyss Counseling

Justin Norton is a student intern and a provider for the affordable counseling program at Catalyss Counseling. He works with men, adults who have lost direction in their lives, and burned-out professionals to regain purpose and meaning so they can become who they have always wanted to be. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.












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