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Q&A with Sarah in our Nature Heals Series

In the heart of Scotland, amidst the serene lochs and rugged landscapes, we find Sarah, a 52-year-old mother of three from the Wirral. A passionate photographer, and small business owner.

Sarah Nature Heals Waterfall
  • Name: Sarah
  • Instagram: Willows_Wonderer
  • Location: The Wirral
  • Loves: Photography, Cold Water Exposure & Walks in Nature

Although a nature enthusiast at heart Sarah admits that life’s busy schedule once severed her relationship with the natural world, until recently. 

Her lost bond has now been rekindled in an effort to overcome personal struggles. Wild swimming and exciting hikes have been something she describes as ‘magical’. “Nature never disappoints,” she says, reflecting on her journey. 

Discussing family life and reasons for making a resurging effort in a natural connection, Sarah touched on how the outdoors and cold-water immersion helped her overcome a hard time in her life, when her son fell ill. “I needed a way of staying strong, which I found in the outdoors. Especially cold-water swimming: it takes my mind away and makes me come back a stronger person.”

Inhabit: How would you describe your relationship with nature?

Sarah: Nature never disappoints, and it always surprises me in such a way to make me happy.

Inhabit: Have you ever felt a natural inclination or connection to nature, even before consciously incorporating it into your lifestyle?

Sarah: Nature has always been there; however, I was disconnected from it for years as I suppose life got too busy. It is only in the last few years I have rediscovered it again.

The turning point for Sarah came during her hikes in the Scottish Highlands. "It felt like a release." she recalls. 

The worries that clouded her mind at the start of each hike dissipated with each step upwards, replaced by a sense of peace and clarity.

But it's not just hiking that brought Sarah closer to nature's healing touch. Cold water swimming, a practice that many would balk at, became her source of immediate release. "You cannot get closer to nature than to immerse yourself in its waters," Sarah describes her experience swimming at 6 am in a historic loch, surrounded by wildlife and the breaking dawn.

Sarah’s not the first to talk about cold water exposure and how doing so in the wild, offers a number of benefits. 

She felt her worries evaporate and has now begun to plan more adventures. 

Inhabit: Can you describe the moment when you first realised that nature was playing a role in your healing, either mentally or physically?

Sarah: Nature heals me mentally. If felt like a release. Thoughts and worries would be there at the start of a hike but would start to disappear as I got higher up the mountain. When I started the magical cold water swimming, the release was immediate.

This journey was not without its challenges. Balancing a busy life filled with technology and finding time for these natural escapades was a hurdle. Yet, Sarah's resolve saw her making the most of her time outdoors, planning adventures whenever possible.

For those seeking solace in nature, Sarah's advice is simple yet profound: "Don't think you can't do anything. Just turn up and see what happens." In these words lies the essence of Sarah's story - a reminder that nature is accessible to all who seek its healing embrace.

Inhabit: Did you consciously seek out nature, or did it happen more organically?

Sarah: I got a love for the outdoors when I was younger through the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, since then, it has never left me.

Inhabit: In what specific ways has nature contributed to your mental and physical well-being?

Sarah: My son fell ill and I needed a way to be strong for him, which I found in the outdoors, especially cold water swimming, it takes my mind away and makes me come back a stronger person.

Inhabit: What specific activities or practices in nature have been most beneficial for you? (e.g., hiking, gardening, adventures, exercise, mindfulness in nature)

Sarah: I swam at 6am in a beautiful loch in Scotland recently, there was so much history, wildlife and peace around me as the sun was rising..I will never forget it. Cold water swimming is the most beneficial activity to me, you cannot get closer to nature than to immerse yourself in its waters.

Balancing the Outdoors and Technology

Sarah works at a desk, but she expressed her gratitude for having plenty of days in the week where she’s able to get out and venture, even if this sometimes comes at the cost of enduring a ‘howling gale’.

Inhabit: Have you faced any challenges or obstacles in maintaining a connection with nature? How did you overcome them?

Sarah: For cold-water swimming I find I have to be in a different mindset to cope with the cold, sometimes questioning my sanity when it is blowing a howling gale but doing it anyway. The only obstacle I have is time.

Inhabit: Outside of your life outdoors, do you have a fast-paced life in the midst of technology?

Sarah: I am very lucky, I only spend 3 days at a desk so I try to get out as much as I can and if not planning adventures.

Advice to Others Looking for Natural Adventure

Inhabit: What advice would you give to someone who is considering incorporating more nature into their life for healing purposes?

Sarah: My advice would be don't think you can't do anything, just turn up and see what happens.