UC Santa Cruz is a truly unique campus. When I toured the summer before my senior year of high school I instantly knew it would be one of my top choices. I kind of got the best of both worlds with the ocean only a 10 minute bus ride away and the beautiful, lush redwood forest the campus resides in.
As someone who is particularly susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder, this campus can be a great stress reliever. I know that my mood and anxiety improves remarkably when I spend at least an hour outside everyday particularly if I spend that time in the sun. I’ve also focused on appreciating my luck to live in this environment. On days when I feel particularly stressed I take a moment to look up at the trees. A moment to remember how lucky I am to live in this amazing environment. Of course that doesn’t always work. Some days are just stressful and overwhelming and it’s ok to let myself feel that. I don’t have to be happy all the time. No one is. However, realizing how small I am in this world can be somewhat a relief. I don’t have to change the world to be meaningful. Remembering to look up from my iPhone and take in the history and beauty all around me is amazing. Taking a deep breath of fresh, clean redwood air from trees that have been here far longer than I have is an amazing feeling. There’s not really a better place for me to shape my future then this environment. Redwood trees grow in clusters, growing from the forest floor. They don’t grow alone but along with other redwoods. They have shallow root systems that extend hundreds of feet from the base twisting among other redwood roots, strengthening them and making them resistant to wind damage and floods.
There is so much to be learned from the redwoods. Growth within communities; communities as a source of life is essential to our way of life. It’s when we become entangled in our own concerns and lives that our growth stops. Making connections with people and recognizing what others have to offer is how we grow outwards and upwards like the redwoods.
I am beginning to see the value in not allowing myself to become wrapped up in my own problems. I am so much happier when I can move beyond that.
Maybe redwoods aren’t your thing, but finding those aspects of nature that allows me to move beyond myself and recognize that maybe my problems aren’t quite so big have helped me enormously. And of course the ocean view close by isn’t half-bad either.
Find what gives you joy! And make sure you make time for it everyday, because your worth it.