Today is World Mental Health Day and given that gardening and getting outside are cited as so good for mental health it seems appropriate to share a couple of thoughts with you.
In Ireland many cafés are being encouraged to collaborate with Mental Health Ireland’s coffee culture initiative so keep an eye out for events happening close by. However, as someone who prefers tea and the great outdoors I personally find the best therapy for my own mental health is to head outside to the garden or just to walk.
I’ve written a couple of posts on the Greenside Up blog about the ‘me’ times and I’m re-blogging one for you below which shares a brief time I took for myself during the spring of last year. I wanted to share it again for anyone who missed it, having listened to Paul O’Mahony’s recent audioboo about things he finds helpful when he’s depressed which you can listen to here.
It really struck me as I listened to Paul speaking about his own issues that if more people opened up and were as honest as he, others with mental health issues might be more inclined to seek help themselves. Importantly, they might not feel as isolated or alone with their problems and just might feel able to reach out.
Sometimes life gets too busy, too stressed and can overwhelm. Our goals and dreams become tangled in the matted knot of thoughts and pressures that bombard us daily.
When that starts to happen we lose sight of who and what we are. We focus on the silly, inconsequential things, ignoring what’s important and then a rising panic starts to build that we’re not achieving what we desire, that we’re failing and that life’s starting to unravel.
This week I was fortunate to be able to listen to Grainne O’Reilly talk about balancing our lives at Carlow’s Networking of Enterprising Women lunch and have practiced the breathing techniques she showed us that help to calm us when we feel under pressure or stressed (breath in for a count of five, hold for a count of five, breath out for a count of five).
It works, I can categorically say that as I’ve been practising it a lot since and as soon as I was able to calm myself I was able to recognise that I was so busy looking and worrying about everyone else, I’d lost sight of me and who I am.
So this morning and completely unplanned I took some time out. I dropped my eldest to school, parked up the car and sat by the beautiful River Barrow for 45 minutes. I stopped thinking about the dinner, the housework, teaching the class that I was due to see a short while later, social media, my own garden, the bank balance, the replacement car I still haven’t bought since crashing my own and the zillion other thoughts that whiz around my brain every minute of the day. I sat down on a faded and flaky painted bench and allowed myself to soak in what was surrounding me at that moment in time.
The roar of the weir drowned out most of my own noise as the water cascaded down the mossy concrete bank, taking its long journey to the sea. I was still able to hear the birds singing around me as they hopped around the pink blossomed branches of nearby trees and listen to the ducks quack as they jumped out of the river and settled down for a snooze.
I noticed the shadows cast from trees mirrored on the flowing river, the cold breeze on my skin and the clouds as they moved across the sky, darkening the light around me at times and then shining so brightly you could almost hear the daffodils sing as they soaked up the sun’s rays.
I stopped doing everything and lived for the moment, thinking how lucky I was that I was able to do just that. How grateful I am that I live the life I do and am surrounded by the people I know in both real life and my virtual social media world. It was a special time and one I want to keep hold of because all those worries I mentioned wont be going away, they’re still there but they needed to be put back into perspective.
I left that tranquil place and drove to my gardening class with a smile. Because I’d stopped for just a brief while I was able to talk about, teach and share my passion for what I do.
Stopping for a few minutes on that bright spring morning, living in the here and now and admiring the beauty of nature worked for me then and still does.
What works for you?