As the temperature finally increased this year following a long winter it made me think about the impact that gardening and being outdoors can have on our mental health and how we can use this as the metaphor for nurturing ourselves. Being in contact with nature has the potential to calm the soul so it can be a good tool for our mental health first aid kit.
As those first signs of distress appear, where’s your go-to place? Where do you feel safe? Where feels restorative? During this last year of lockdown (see Weathering the Storm) many have craved green spaces and simply being outdoors. I have made it a priority most days to get out even for a local walk.
There’s something also about the very act of nurturing seedlings and plants that, for many, represents the nurturing of the self that may have not been present in early life. It can become a way to nurture ourselves as well – gardening as metaphor. Does anyone else find themselves talking to seedlings…urging them on? It won’t have been a coincidence that compost was hard to get hold of at certain points during the pandemic.
Following the long winter, we then had an unprecedented dry spell making the ground hard as rock. When the rain eventually came, the ground struggled, at first, to absorb what it most needed. It made me think about how difficult it can be for some clients to absorb ‘the good stuff’; it can get rejected repeatedly until a time when it might feel safer to absorb it. Many struggles for ‘water’ may have come and gone in the meantime. Looking at the garden, the signs are good; the grass looks rejuvenated from the water and there are more shades of green reappearing.
So, with gardening as metaphor in mind, how do we respond to both nurturing others and receiving nurturing from others? What do you notice in both your mind and body? What feels comfortable? What feels more challenging? Is there the potential for noticing and potentially an alternative way of being?
So, even if you are not into gardening or don’t have a garden, what’s the ‘nature’ part of your first aid kit? How do you restore your soul? I wish you peace, however you do it.