Words by Cam Greenwood
It’s no secret that anxiety is at an all-time high. The digital landscape we live in that compels us to always be online has left so many of us feeling down and super exhausted by life itself. This constant world of connectivity and comparison can be so draining and often leads to burnout.
I myself have experienced burnout first hand — and so many good people I know have too. Across 2017 and 2018, I suffered from it in a big way. It all started with a little bit of fear and anxiety that I didn’t know how to deal with. I was in the midst of some legal challenges and I had my focus fixed on the worst-case scenario. It was the first time in my life where I experienced REAL anxiety — the kind where your heart is pumping so hard it feels like it might just come out of your chest. All this stress and struggle I was in ultimately accumulated until I found myself in hospital early last year. Turns out, I also had a hectic strain of glandular fever and a few other things going on too.
I had truly hit rock bottom. This burnout had taken my energy, but worst of all, it took my perspective. I had been so focused on this problem, which was a very real issue. But there was still a lot of good in my life. I had Elise by my side, and we were planning to get married later that year (literally ordered her engagement ring while in hospital ). I had a great family, great mates and an incredibly blessed life. But burnout caused me to only look at the negative.
The recovery felt ever so slow. It seemed like things were never improving — in my health and in my circumstances. I was advised to stay in bed and rest as much as possible. But I found that staying inside to rest never made me feel any better because I’d find myself scrolling through social media and staring at screens — who doesn’t!?
On the contrary, every time I turned my phone off and went outside, I’d feel so much better. Maybe not always physically — there was a big period of time where I couldn’t even walk 500m without getting super puffed and dizzy — but inwardly I’d feel way more at peace. I never really knew why — but I could feel myself being pulled into the rhythm and heartbeat of nature every time I gave myself to its call.
I’d sit at the Barwon Heads Bluff and just stare out into the ocean. I’d put my face towards the sun and just feel it’s warmth on my forehead. I’d stare and marvel at the clouds for long periods of time (anyone who knows me well has probably caught me doing this from time to time ). I’d listen to the songs of the birds. Hear the whisper of the wind through the trees. And probably the weirdest of all, i’d walk around the rock pools on low tide and touch the different textures of rocks while feeling the green slime in between my toes (seriously, it’s such a killer activity).
These super-simple times in nature began to remind me that ultimately, I’m not in control. I didn’t make the green slime over the rock pools. I don’t make the birds sing. I don’t make the clouds dance. I don’t make the ocean roar or calm. I don’t make the sun go up or down. I don’t make the stars shine. There is a creator behind all of that — and I was reminded that the same creator was behind my life as well.
In this understanding and trust, I finally found rest and healing. And when my inner world began to feel at peace with the unknowns we all face, my energy and my health slowly started to come back. It wasn’t an instant fix, it was a real journey over a good year and I still have my down days every now and then. But when they come, natures call beckons me to come and rest — to renew my spirit in the wonder and beauty of the wild.
Nature cured my burnout. It helped me let go and trust something greater is behind my life. And it helped me understand that everything in life starts with the health of your soul.
So next time you feel that anxiety creep up on you, ditch your digital devices and take some time to reconnect with nature and enjoy the restorative benefits of this gift we have all around us.