Stay in the sun when the sunshine is gone, and you will find that the sunshine lives within you.
As mental health awareness week has the theme of connecting with nature, I wanted to share my experience of connecting with nature over the past 18 months.
When we bought our house a few years ago I fell in love with the garden then we moved, and I instantly felt overwhelmed with it. I quickly realised I didn’t have a clue and we just about muddled through initially! At the end of 2019 I decided that I wanted to learn more about gardening.
I enrolled into a course which introduced me to a small group of amazing people and together we learnt all about growing from seed, planning the right plants for your garden and together we shared many successes and mistakes along the way. The course coincided with Covid-19 and our first lock down which none of us could foresee. Being a front-line worker my day to day was very busy, with long hours and lots of uncertainty. I was lucky that I had an outdoor space, and it was at this point the garden really became my happy place.
I took enormous pleasure in getting outside and seeing the progress of plants and giving new things a go like propagating. Thanks to the summer evening light I felt like I could still have an evening whatever time I got home and could use the time to potter in the garden and unwind. I grew lots of different flowers and gave some veg a go too.
Whilst I enjoyed broadening my knowledge and skills, what I had not anticipated at the time when I signed up was the impact gardening would have on my mental health. For me gardening is great because it helps me to be in the moment when I need to be more grounded, especially when picking flowers to arrange around the house or deadheading spent blooms. It helped when I felt frazzled and needed to switch off, there is nothing better than popping headphones in to listen to a podcast or an audio book and tackling a few hours of weeding. The final aspect of gardening I love is the fact that you also have to be forward thinking and planning ahead. This was great to focus on something positive especially in the winter lock down and helped me stay hopeful and enthusiastic about better times coming. I spent winter ordering new seeds, planning the garden beds and ordering dahlia tubers, and thinking about lighter and warmer days to come!
Gardening is something special you can also share with others which is another element I absolutely love. This can be giving someone a small posey of flowers from the garden, sharing veg you have grown, giving away surplus plants, or simply enjoying a cup of tea with a friend/family member in the garden surrounded by your plants.
Gardening has become one of my favourite self-care activities and helps me to connect with nature to keep a positive mindset. If you are looking for some gardening inspiration here are a few of my favourite ways I like to get inspired:
Let’s grow girls
Grow, cook, eat, arrange