Utilizing the Natural World as a Means of Achieving Mental Wellness

Audubon.org
Thursday, June 6, 2019
by Jessica Andreone, Student Conservation Association, AmeriCorps member
 
I have an anxiety disorder.
 
Managing the symptoms of any mental illness is challenging and requires continuous surveillance. It’s an illness that I have to be aware of everyday, not just for the past month of May, which was Mental Health Awareness Month.
 
So, what helps?
 
Since I started my position here at Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary, I have only had one panic attack. I used to have one a week.
 
That’s not to say I’ve been without stress, which is a major trigger of symptoms for anxiety disorders. I’ve been juggling personal and familial struggles, financial burdens, an increased workload as we head into summer. Besides my usual meditating, baking, and reading, I owe my health to living and working in a green space and to a newly discovered passion: birding.
 
When I began this internship in January, I knew very little about birds. It wasn’t until I started to lead students on bird walks that I fell in love with birds. The guided bird walks have inspired me to go birding in my free time, almost every morning or evening, and it is now so much more than just seeing a bird.