Walking in the forest

From extreme weather disasters to COVID-19, current events may provoke anxiety or grief.

To cope with difficult emotions, however they may arise, eco-therapist Linda Buzzell encourages her clients to get outdoors. Research shows that time in nature can improve mental health.

This approach turned personal for Buzzell about three years ago when lethal wildfires and mudslides devastated Santa Barbara, California, where she lives.

She says the events left her community traumatized.

“Massive grief, massive shock and of course terrible losses,” she says. “Not just in terms of property, which was huge, but we lost 23 people.”

She says part of her healing process involved taking long walks in nature.

“For those of us who are suffering from eco-anxiety, eco-grief, any form of emotional upset and fear about what’s happening in terms of our climate and other environmental issues,” she says, “it’s really important to balance all of that bad news with some outdoor time, some nature time, that’s just healing.”

She says it’s helped her cope, so she can continue helping others do the same.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Samantha Harrington

Samantha Harrington, Associate Editor of Yale Climate Connections, is a journalist and graphic designer, with a background in digital media and entrepreneurship. "Sam" is especially interested in sharing...