As the warmer weather is approaching and our youth workshops are opening up it's reminding me of the peace and calmness that exists outdoors. Almost ALL of our clients that we work with both youth and adults talk about the peacefulness and calm within that they feel out in the pasture with our horses. We always ask each client to check their phones at the gate and to be intentional about being present with the horses. This allows them to be safer because they are focused on the 1,200lb animal that is in front of them instead of their phone. It also allows for them to have connection with others and the horses. We are so used to being preoccupied and multitasking, but what if you were to look up and see that someone was standing right in front of you like this horse.... needing you? How many times has this happened and you didn't even realize that it did?
Phones allow us to be connected to so many people all in the palm of our hands and at the same time, but they disconnect us from those that are right in front of us. A lot of what we do with the youth is teaching them how to truly connect, communicate and understand people or animals in person. We improve our communication skills by establishing better self awareness and emotional awareness. This helps us identify what we are bringing into a conversation and gives them a little more accountability and control for what they decide they want to let go of or bring into a conversation. After being aware of what we have going on, we always do a meditation to let go of what isn't serving us and to make sure that we are intentional about what we want for our time together. They get to choose. They have the power to let go (even for a short time) of what isn't serving them and be intentional about what they want to invite into their lives in that moment.
Most youth are used to people telling them to put their phones away, but adults are not as comfortable with this request. Back in the day on airplanes when they would ask you to turn your phone off- you would STILL have people on their phones. Like their business was more important than the instruments on the plane.... I would most definitely say that adults often have a more difficult time unplugging from their phone.
When I do ask adult clients to put their phones away, they tell me about the things they heard, saw or even could smell. They tell me about the incredible birds that are there that breathe so much life into that little pasture. They are getting a small glimpse of the mental health benefits of unplugging! Why does this matter?
This matters because you don't need to experience some therapeutic process to experience peace and calmness. You don't even need to be around horses! Unplugging and getting outdoors may be the ticket to improving your mental health! And a very inexpensive one at that! If you feel rejuvenated after going on a walk or reading a good book on the back porch, then maybe this should be a practice you engage in more frequently.
Mental health is similar to our physical health. We don't workout one or two times a month and call it good. We know that we have to eat healthy and workout consistently to reap the rewards of physical health. It's the same with mental health. We must have daily practices in place in order to be healthy in our minds. To be prepared for the storms that are coming in our lives. We can guarantee that storms are coming, so why not get prepared by strengthening that muscle. Why not have practices in place that are habitual, so that when storms come you will get through them a lot easier.
In regards to my previous blog post about self care and filling our own cup, this is something that you can add to your list of ideas to fill your cup. I cannot stress enough the benefits of getting outside and breathing in deeply that present moment. People pay a lot of money to repair their mental health, but what if you could maintain your mental health by engaging in something that unplugged you from the world for a short time?
What would be the side affects of unplugging from the world for a short time each day be for you? What would be the repercussions on your family? How would that influence your creativity and mental capacity? I dare you to try it consistently for a week and see what happens! :)