Sea, parks, forest, mountains: what is the right place for healing

Since ancient times, in nature one finds peace and renewal, inspiration and example. In his book Places for healing (Ponte alle Grazie, €20), the author Samantha Walton It also tells us something new: in any of its manifestations, we can also find parts of ourselves in nature. An experience with cathartic power, liberation from suffering.

Do it swimming in the sea on New Year’s Eve? “Just the thought can be scary, but once you get used to this ritual, you never give up,” Samantha Walton tells us. “Swimming all year round is actually a real treat strengthens the mind and body. It makes you less prone to mood swings. It allows us to resist moments of “no”. it clarifies our ideas and plans of attack if we face major changes. From a mental point of view, the biggest effect it causes is the awareness of his own power. This feat that seemed superhuman to contemplate is erased moments later when we are inside, amazed by the energy within us. And, again in terms of self-efficacy, swimming in cold temperatures produces a stress response, which accustoms us to become more capable of responding to life’s challenges. A good mood also benefits: the body releases greater amounts of dopamine, serotonin and beta-endorphins, substances of psychosomatic well-being, and blocks the production of cytokines, inflammatory factors that, by intoxicating the brain, predispose it to depression. “

Where to go

278239For a dip in the sea and this season, there is one of the hottest places in Italy Scala dei Turchi, in the province of Agrigento, with beaches of fine white sand and crystal clear sea. Also worth mentioning is Sorgeto, in Ischia (Naples) where thermal water flows at very high temperatures and mixes with the sea, heating it. Otherwise, you can always try diving Lavenderin the heart of Cinque Terre, overlooking a not too cold bay (the warmest in Liguria).

For Samantha Walton, city parks are always “little wellness machines.” “When we are outside, entering a green area breaks the tensions of so-called ‘normal’ life. According to Ulrich’s theory, in fact, moving from one environment to another helps to reduce nervous tension because the action of the parasympathetic nervous system is enhanced, helping us to calm down in a short period of time. More, the park is a natural environment that accommodates our various moods. We can move to discharge energy, or sit on a bench to watch the spectacle of nature resting in autumn. Dead leaves, flowers that transform into seed heads, frost that forms on the grass by crystallizing it interrupt the continuous (and frustrating) flow of our thoughts,” explains the expert.

Where to go

TO Rome, Villa Ada It is one of the largest parks in the capital, with patches of pine, holly, oak and chestnut trees inhabited by squirrels and wild rabbits. Another interesting itinerary is the historic garden of Horti, Milan, where meadows, cedars of Lebanon and perennial aromatic plants meet. Stibber in Florence is worth a walk: English garden, lake and water features.

“Forests are great places to explore, with a strong psychological meaning,” suggests Walton. “However, they are not shelters in which we can hide and escape from ourselves. The nature that characterizes them is complex and varied but with its spicy smells, its shadows, the flashes of light between the trees, the sudden screeches and cries of wild animals puts us in touch with the variety of our emotions, fear as courage, anxiety as happiness. Forests remind us, in fact, that we can experience negative sensations and survive by accepting them for what they are. It is also the ideal place to meditate on our difficulties, to bring out problems, without too many oppressive inhibitions. Ultimately, the bush is a place that gives the feeling of being out of time, away from gazes, obligations and control. For this reason, it gives us the freedom to look honestly within ourselves.”

Where to go

278238You can take lovely meditative walks in Casentino Forests, Northern Apennines, next to mystical places like the Benedictine Hermitage of Camaldoli. Also worth a visit Umbra Forest, in Gargano: among the centuries-old forests of beeches, maples and oaks, the oldest example is the “Zeppino dello Scorzone”, a monumental 700-year-old Aleppo pine. In Piedmont, between Lake Maggiore and the Swiss Alps, the forests of the Vigezzo valleythe so-called “Valley of Painters” for its thousand colors.

“The mountains are positions pregnant with healing, because the higher we climb, the stronger the feeling that we have exceeded our limits,” explains Samantha Walton. “It is one we question ourselves, face to face with danger, and reaching the top is proof of our worth. Create a euphoria of conquest, which can get us out of or overcome our problems. In any case, you don’t need to reach high altitudes to feel that every mountain route is legal and profitable. Even just taking a route with a small difference in altitude has a remarkable edifying power: to follow a winding path, to be careful at every step not to fall, to go to the edge of a ravine is something new to our mind, which it overturns our usual way of thinking and leads us to explore another, new and creative one. In favor of greater flexibility and the ability to see life from multiple perspectives.”

Where to go

In his shadow Mont-Blancin Val D’Aosta, a walk winds up to 3000 meters above sea level in Val Ferret and Val Veny, while in Ledro Valley, Trentino Alto Adige, there are 150 kilometers of walks with breathtaking views. In Central Italy, the routes not to be missed are the Road of the Godsin the Tuscany-Emilia Apennines, or a less demanding walk (altitude difference of about 700 meters) that from Pruo (Lucca) leads to the Rifugio Del Freo from where you can admire the Apuan Alps.

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