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When adjusting to rural life we have to change some preconceptions. We all have a personal mental image of what a rural life should be like. Reality can be a shock.
Driving through picturesque landscapes or holidaying in the countryside can be a very different experience to the reality of country living. If you don’t prepare yourself, the immersion into rural life may be your undoing.
This article will help you consider some of the potential difficulties you may face when you move to the countryside.
Sound is everywhere. Urban life is filled with the everyday noise of people and traffic. Depending on where you live, manufacturing sounds may also be a constant in your life.
However, the human brain is amazing, it will eventually filter out constant sounds. People who live in cities may not notice the constant hum of traffic. At least not until they go to the countryside and its missing. Then the lack of the noise suddenly becomes noticeable.
Silence is deafening
One of the first things noticed by many in the countryside is quiet. The entire peace and quiet dream of rural life are founded around this. For someone who has spent many years in the city this silence can be disorientating.
The lack of traffic hum can become confusing. The mind tries to work out what is missing, but as it was a sound barely perceived it is hard to define it. As the brain and the ears adjust to the new environment a second difficulty appears.
Nature is noisy
Nature is full of constant sounds. Leaves in the wind, birds, and insects all build a sonic landscape around us. If you have spent all your life in a city, you may have never heard the real sound of a cow’s moo. A moo from a mile away echoing across a valley has a very different sound to a cow in a field next to you.
As your ears are not attuned to a rural environment all of these sounds are new and not yet cataloged by the brain. In the dark once your imagination takes hold things can get interesting.
It’s loud at night
Sound travels further at night. In the wilderness the lack of buildings and people to absorb some of the sound means it travels further. The mind loves to play tricks on us and itself at night. The hoot of an owl suddenly sounds ominous, when fuelled by our imagination.
Owls have very distinctive calls, most of which sound nothing like the twit-twoo of cartoon owls. The tawny owl is the closest to this sound, however, this is the ker-wick of a female and hoo-hoo-ooo of a male.
This a an excellent video by Kees Vanger of the calls of 8 species of owl.
Until your brain and imagination get used to sounds like these it can be very difficult adjusting to rural life
Like sound, sight is influenced by our brain. All those times we are looking for something and cannot see it, then someone else will see it instantly. Our brain can create blindspots, and filter out sights just the same as it does sound.
Another thing our brain likes to see is order. in the countryside, the lack of buildings and familiar shapes can be difficult for our brain to process.
Darkness can be too dark
Cities are full of light pollution. If you are out in a rural area you can spot a city by the glow in the sky above it. Our eyes get used to this light pollution and our brain tells us that this is darkness.
As soon as you get out into the countryside away from houses and streetlights, real darkness descends. This can be terrifying if you are not prepared for it. Once your eyes adjust to this new level of darkness and you slowly adapt to it a different problem can arise.
It’s too bright at night
One of the difficulties with adjusting to rural life can be how bright the stars and moon are in low light pollution areas. In a city the streetlights and buildings can block out how much sunlight the moon actually reflects on earth. On some occasions this can be almost as bright as daylight.
Where before in the city you may have seen a few stars, without light pollution it suddenly becomes millions, and they too can be brighter that you think they would be. the strangeness of the monochrome moon and starlight can lead to the brain and imagination running wild.
Shapes and shadows
In a rural area, there are shapes and shadows that a city dweller cannot identify at night. In the city, there are a lot of straight lines. Nature rarely makes straight lines. A tree waving about in the wind from a distance at night can suddenly become a figure that appears closer.
The imagination tries to fill in the blanks that the brain cannot process, with the closest thing it can remember. So a tree with two branches sticking out becomes a person with outstretched arms. Until you get used to the shape and sounds of a rural area your mind will play terrible tricks on you
Nature is smelly, as highlighted in this post animals smell. Manure and silage smells, crops smell. Trees and plants smell. Getting used to the smells of a rural area can be a roller coaster of nice and nasty.
Certain times of the year the countryside is awash with both nice and nasty smells and the wind can bring you a selection to assault your nose without warning. Getting used to some of these smells can be more difficult than others.
Manure season can be one of the smelliest times of year in a rural setting. the wind will carry the smell of strong manure for many miles. It can be a sickly sweet smell that hangs heavy in the air. For some people this is not a problem, for others it can be the worst thing they have ever smelled.
Different regions, areas, and countries will have slightly different periods where they use manure in the fields. With the move towards more organic farming the use of manure to fertilize crops and nourish fields is on the increase so it is a smell that won’t go away.
Silage is grass or green animal feed, stored usually for winter. Quite often stored in silos, or wrapped with plastic. It can range from the pleasant smell of fresh-cut wet grass, to rotten fish or rancid butter.
If you move to an area anywhere that animal feed is made or animals are bred you can expect at some point to be introduced to the smells of silage.
There are countless smells in nature, that someone from the city may have never experienced before. Some of these such as the pollen from flowers can be very overpowering. The lack of pollution from traffic allows for a cleaner air.
This cleaner air when combined with more open space results in smells being able to travel a lot further than in a city environment. Anyone who has been camping will know how the smell of a campfire can travel in the wilderness.
Living in a city you are used to people being constantly around you. Even if you do not see them you know your neighbor os the other side of a wall or across the street. Human interactions happen constantly.
Even if you do not know a person very well or at all, just seeing another human can create a sense of connection. In remote rural areas you may not see another human outside of your family for days or even weeks. This can create many feeling that can have mental health issues
Not seeing or interacting with other humans for days at a time can lead to the start of the depression. Unchecked this can develop into a serious issue. One of the hardest things about adjusting to rural life can be the loneliness felt by many.
Human interaction is a vital part of who we are as people which is why in this article we advocated joining local community groups. Getting to know other people in the area helps with the feelings of loneliness and can also help with having someone who may spot the onset of depression.
Open spaces can become claustrophobic
Living in a city the constant knowledge that there are people around you can act as a type of cocoon. When you are out in a rural area and can see for miles, that weight of knowing no-one is near can start to feel claustrophobic. You can feel closed in by the sheer amount of open space you can see.
In woodland and forest the trees can appear to move closer together, and you can start to feel trapped. Moving from a city environment to a rural one can amplify mild levels of both claustrophobia and agoraphobia to far more serious levels. making sure to have a network of help is important to ensure that support is available
Another problem faces by those moving to rural areas can be boredom. Travel to local towns can be hours away. There can be very little to do in what downtime you do have.
You cannot nip to the local bar, cinema, fast food restaurant, or meet up with friends for a night out as easily as you can in a city. Adjusting to rural life includes learning how to adapt to changes like these
Adjusting to rural life can be a difficult process as your mind and senses adapt to new sights, sounds, and smells. Open spaces, and loneliness can go from being ideal to rapidly causing mental health issues.
Ensuring that you prepare for rural life and build a network of support around you is important. It takes time to adjust to rural life and you need to watch out for signs that indicate you or this around you may need professional help.
Comment below with any other ways you think adjusting to rural life is difficult
5 Recommended books from Amazon
- The Way Home: Tales from a life without technology
- Going Off the Grid: The How-To-Book of Simple Living and Happiness
- The Mini Farming Bible: The Complete Guide to Self-Sufficiency on ¼ Acre
- Start Your Farm: The Authoritative Guide to Becoming a Sustainable 21st Century Farmer
- Farming the Woods: An Integrated Permaculture Approach to Growing Food and Medicinals in Temperate Forests
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