Life between four walls during this worldwide pandemic has shown us just how much we used to take the great outdoors for granted.
The isolation and social distancing have undoubtedly taken a toll on extroverts and introverts alike.
As time goes on, quarantine becomes more and more unbearable, but it is upon us all to abide by the lockdown regulations enforced if we ever want to go back to our normal lives.
We talked to mental health specialist Rima Bazzi to find out more about the relationship between mental wellbeing and the outdoors and got some great tips from her on how to cope during the quarantine.
Rima Bazzi is a Lebanese Cognitive Hypnotherapist based in Dubai. Before diving into the psychological field, she studied economics then completed an MSc in Management at Imperial College London.
After graduating, she worked for Apple’s advertising agency for two years, before quitting to become a cognitive hypnotherapist.
To work in advertising, one must grasp an understanding of human nature, and Rima Bazzi definitely wanted to learn more.
In London, she completed different training and certifications, including holistic health coaching, cognitive behavioral therapy, and hypnotherapy. She is also a certified NLP Master Practitioner.
“I now mainly use cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnotherapy in my practice to help people overcome self-doubt, fear, and build confidence to reach their full potential. That includes people who struggle with stress, anxiety, social anxiety, and phobia.”
Rima says that many people have been coming to her lately with increased stress and anxiety, and many who are experiencing symptoms of depression due to loneliness during the lockdown.
“If people are isolated and have no supportive social connections, that may lead them to feel lonely, which can be very painful,” she says.
She explains the reason: “As humans, we have an innate need to connect and belong and we’re hardwired to interact with others, especially during stressful times. The lack of emotional support and connection can increase our anxiety or lead to depression.”
Even before the pandemic, many of us were, as Rima puts it, ‘nature-deprived’.
We would spend more time on our screens and less time outdoors, which meant “more time in stressful environments and less in restorative, soothing environments”.
She says that being in nature is truly healing. Not only does it help us feel better emotionally, but it is also physically beneficial as it “reduces our blood pressure, heart rate, and the production of stress hormones.”
Being outdoors “helps bring our body and mind into a state of calm and lifts our mood,” she says.
Over the last few years, Rima developed her own personal connection to the outdoors, which she started appreciating after she noticed its effect on her mood.
“It makes me feel grounded, connected, and renewed,” she told us, “It’s also part of the reason why I’ve been traveling to Bali and spending at least one month there – because of the incredible healing energy of nature.”
Rima suggests the following ways to lift spirits while staying indoors:
Through visualization: “Close your eyes and imagine being in nature, in the mountains or by the beach, imagine how it would look like, how it would feel like – playing nature sounds in the background helps too.”
Listen to “nature sounds.” Rima explains that listening to ocean waves for 10 minutes (or any other ‘nature sound” found on YouTube) can have a calming effect.
Listen to your favorite music.
Move your body (dance, exercise).
Connect with friends and family or engage in doing something you enjoy (for example cooking, painting, creating something with your hands while taking time off your screens).
Usually, when people are feeling bad they tend to step back from things and, in some way, isolate themselves.
However, Rima says that there’s a big difference between choosing to intentionally have some “alone time” and being forced into “isolation-time” in which many begin becoming self-critical and feel lonely.
Nevertheless, having time for ourselves is still important and shouldn’t be avoided after getting out of quarantine.
“Spending some alone time is essential for our brain to unwind and recharge. It gives us the chance to clear our minds, focus, and think clearly,” Rima advises.
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