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Strength to body and soul

Apparently, American President Theodore Roosevelt (1858- 1919) experienced neurasthenia. And the fascinating thing here for me is the discovery of one of his solutions to combat the condition and regain strength to body and soulStrength to body and soul – he opened many national parks.

The outdoors.


Fresh air, no technology, stunning scenery.

The sense of being part of something much bigger than yourself.

And this brings to mind a popular character in our house, John Muir. He was a Scottish conservationist and naturalist, and founder of – guess what – the American National Park system. Here are some of his observations, from over a century ago –

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”┬áJohn Muir, Our National Parks (1901)

Tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilised….sounds remarkably like some of the symptoms of burnout, or indeed, neurasthenia. And the fact that both Muir and Roosevelt identified these problems as symptomatic of our culture and way of life all those years ago both encourages me – there is little that is really new about the human condition – and causes despair – do we never learn?!

I am so enjoying this investigation into burnout and it’s history….

I love exploring our heritage, both in terms of our creativity and inventiveness, and understanding how, at a fundamental level, there is very little that is new under the sun. We have always been inventive, creative, relational people with an amazing capacity to learn, grow, cherish and enjoy.

And we have always needed time out to stop, breathe, see the bigger picture and be refreshed and restored. To regain strength in body and soul. Sometimes, when we feel overwhelmed with our 21st century lives and swamped by the need to be ‘on’ all the time, we can feel trapped and isolated. But look at our forefathers and see that there is a way out, and we are not alone.

The challenge is not staying put, but doing something about it.

And one small action we might take is to get out into the national park to drink of that fountain of life, to paraphrase John Muir. Or at least, get out into our local park, or some green space, or even head further afield into the hills, the coast, a forest. Today, it is the most glorious sunny day, and the idea of disappearing into a national park to commune with nature is extremely appealing. Not practical however, but there are always small concessions or compromises we can make to get outside, without technology, reconnect with the greater expanse of world of which we are part, and regain some small measure of strength to body and soul.

Inspired? Encouraged? Get in touch!

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