Decompressing in the Woods

 

Daily life as an Aspie can be rough, especially when routines get interrupted and there is an overload of sensory input. There are several things that I’ve been using to manage this issue, including spending time in the woods.

Everything from a short walk on a flat trail to an hour of hiking difficult terrain helps, and it’s even better when A and I don’t run into anyone else. Studies have repeatedly proven that being in nature reduces rumination and negative thought patterns, which is something that any Aspie can benefit from.

Walking is linked to improved mood, balance, muscle strength and coordination, along with lowering your risk of contracting diabetes or developing high blood pressure. All of these perks are beneficial to anyone, but Aspies can be especially helped by receiving a boost in their emotion regulation abilities.

Many people with Asperger’s are clumsy and not very stable or confident on their feet. Hiking challenges me because I often feel like I’m going to slip or fall, but I also gain a lot of confidence each time I complete a steep uphill climb or navigate down a steep decline. In fact, research indicates that uneven terrain is one of the best ways to improve balance and stability!¬†

Another big bonus for me about being in nature is that animals tend to flock to me. I’m that person who every dog and cat loves hanging out with, and this trait usually extends to undomesticated wildlife too. This has led to many memorable encounters, including one time when a male peacock walked right next to me for about a quarter of a mile. I might not be very good in social situations with humans, but when it comes to animals, I’m basically Snow White.

The woods can occasionally be a bit overwhelming for a moment or two because there is so much to see and hear, but it’s usually easy for me to block this type of sensory input by focusing on one thing. Unlike situations outside the woods, there isn’t a large group of people, technology, music, etc. to flood my mind, which makes the overall impact of a walk in the woods very positive for me.

Also unlike anywhere else, if I start having issues processing all of the sensory input, I can instantly calm down by sitting next to a lake or on a fallen tree. No one is there to judge me harshly or to make me feel badly about myself for not fitting into the neurotypical norm. In other words, it’s blissful.

The woods are my favorite place to decompress, and spending time in nature is part of the sensory diet I’m working on, as is exercising daily. Putting the two things together is a great combination that I highly recommend to my fellow Aspies.

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