Tuleyome Tales: Nature is a healing force for PTSD
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” John Muir 1901
This is my first article and I wanted to highlight some of the healing properties of nature. Up until a few months ago, I had no idea Tuleyome was a thing. I am glad I found it.
I recently retired from the fire service and the military with PTSD and was really struggling with getting through daily life and simple tasks involving memory. I have been working with various therapists from the VA (Veteran’s Affairs) and civilian side and they all had similar advice. “Get outside” was something that they all would say.
The thing about PTSD is it creates a lot of anxiety. For me, I really withdrew and became a professional at making excuses to avoid social situations and just shut myself in. Tuleyome makes it easy to get outside by offering several guided hikes and ways to volunteer.
There are a lot of recent studies that show that nature has healing properties for mental health. The sense of “awe” from a beautiful sunset or sunrise, looking from a hillside down at the valley below, seeing Elk interact with each other or birds in flight.
That’s all it takes to create a sense of well-being and according to the U.C. Berkeley study conducted in 2014.
In the Berkeley study, 72 veterans and 52 at-risk teens were taken separately on a white-water rafting trip on the south fork of the American River. The research pointed out several things that bolster the case for getting out into nature. First, “a week after river-rafting, study cohorts reported, on average, a 29 percent reduction in post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, a 21 percent decrease in general stress, a 10 percent improvement in social relationships, a 9 percent improvement in life satisfaction and an 8 percent increase in happiness.”
The studies have shown so much success that bills have been brought to Congress on the issue. Most recently, Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act, H.R. 2435, would form a task force on the use of public lands to provide medical treatment and therapy to veterans through outdoor recreation.
The first step and the hardest is to ask for help. Here are some places that can help:
- https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 Text 838255.
- https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
The next step, equally as hard for me, is to put a foot forward and actually get outside. Tuleyome has a great staff and a board with a vast knowledge of trails at all ability levels. Visit Tuleyome’s trails page to find something for you.
I hope this helps someone that is struggling or inspires people to check in with themselves and get out into nature. Contact Tuleyome at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can learn more at http://tuleyome.org/.
by Daryl Sager
— Tuleyome is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit conservation organization based in Woodland. For more information go to www.tuleyome.org.
Crossposted from the Davis Enterprise
Published online on May 13, 2020