Recently I went for a walk with a friend of mine in the forest. It was a sunny winter day and not too cold, which was a nice change. I love being outside and enjoying nature.
But during our walk, all of a sudden, my friend suffered an anxiety attack. His breath shortened, he started gasping for air and needed to sit down for a moment.
I asked him, “What were you thinking about that made you feel anxious?”
“My work, my problems and all the things I have to fix in the next days,” he answered.
So I asked him: “Where are we right now in this moment? We’re walking on a beautiful sunny day in the forest, noticing the ice on the water and sun sparkling on the wet leaves. The air feels fresh and crisp, and we can hear the water trickling down the stream.”
Talking about the present moment and asking him to notice the nature around him calmed my friend down and we were able to continue our walk peacefully.
I realized then that, even if you’re doing something as relaxing as walking in the woods, if you’re not enjoying the moment as is, but worrying — thinking of the future — you can cause yourself anxiety.
Anxiety can strike us anywhere; it’s normal. It takes practice to be present in the moment and breathe, but it’s the best way to live a happy and more peaceful life. Even when in nature, you have to help it be your friend. It’s not a guarantee.
So next time you notice when your thoughts go into the future or in the past, take some conscious breathes and come back to the present moment.