#MentalMonday: Unplug and spread your branches.

Over the weekend, having recently learned of its existence, I went to a local botanical garden. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a disappointment for the part of me that wanted to see a million different plants and flowers in bloom, neatly curated on acres and acres of land. However, the other part of me that likes going to the gardens simply to reconnect with nature and become a bit more calm and relaxed was quite pleased. (I have to admit that I am somewhat spoiled after Denver Botanic Gardens I visited in June – such beauty and so many cool places to just sit, admire the flora, and do whatever! And in shade, too!)

Today, I wanted to remind you all how amazing nature is and that we should get in touch with our roots more often. We are SO busy with our lives these days: work/school – home – bed. Isn’t that the most popular cycle for us? It sure is for me. We see photos online of forests, flowers, the sea, etc., and we are in awe. But then we open a new tab/ window or walk away to complete a chore and forget about what we just saw and how it made us feel.

When we’re outside, we dash to our cars to take us wherever we want to go. We can go days, weeks, or even months without really SEEING nature. Who has time for that? We’ve already covered that none of us do. Nature can even be an inconvenience to us sometimes. Do I have to mow the lawn AGAIN? Ughr, I have to cut this branch before my neighbor complains about it. This stupid pollen! *rubs eyes and sneezes at the same time* I hated parking under a tree because my car would get covered with bird excrements whenever I did. (Somehow, that did not happen to other cars…)

Even though it might seem to you that you do not have time to seek out a natural oasis, I recommend that you MAKE time (if you have not done so already). It will be well worth it, I assure you.

But don’t take my word for it; listen to the science. (Sources: NPR, healthline)

Did you know that the risk of diabetes, heart disease, mental health disorders, or muscular/ skeletal issues goes down if you live in a green area? I’m assuming it’s because you just get out and do things more than if you live in a concrete jungle. On top of that, you breathe cleaner air. Being in a greener area for a couple of days boosts your immune system – it makes the killer cells in your body, responsible for attacking things like viruses and cancers, more efficient. Our body heals and invests in a protection system when it feels safe and calm. Smells found in nature – like pine and lavender can help put us in that state.

A study showed that with all things being equal, the rates of COVID-19 infections were lower in greener areas. Another one showed that a person will spend more on healthcare per year if they live in an area with fewer trees.

A few years ago, a place I worked at overlooked a magnificent lake. I loved walking up to the window and just looking into the vastness of the blue-green (that was, of course, dependent on the time of year, algae content, etc.). Unfortunately, I could only do it maybe once or twice a day. Otherwise, I was locked away with clients in a room with a narrow window overlooking the roof… Not very romantic. It became clear to me quite quickly that looking at the water would help me get back to baseline (or at least closer to it) whenever I was stressed. If I couldn’t go to the lake whenever I wanted, I figured I’d bring the lake to me. So, I printed out a photo of a lake and a forest and hung it on my wall. Whenever I got stressed but could not go look at the lake outside, I’d look at the one on my wall… and it WORKED! The power of imagination would transport me to a more serene place, and the blues and greens would instantly make me feel better.

It turns out that every bit helps.

“What we’ve discovered is those kinds of everyday, almost banal forms of nature – a view of trees outside your window, a bouquet of flowers – all of those things have these same systematic effects. They don’t have as large effects, but they definitely have them. So you just need to use the nature you have access to.”

Dr. Ming Kuo – environmental psychologist

OK, so say – you’ve made it outside. Now what? While eyes can feed, I believe our ears also need some nourishment. So, don’t plug in the earbuds. Just be there and be present. Does it sound boring to you to be doing nothing? It doesn’t have to be. There’s so much going on around you. Did you notice the bee figuring out which flower will be the most comfortable to sit on? Or the leaf that is trying to fall right next to its lover?

Again – other than just anecdotes from my personal life – researchers found people to be more creative and better at solving problems if they make their minds wander more often.

So, this week, take a moment and:

  1. locate some trees in your area
  2. turn your phone on silent or airplane mode
  3. go take a walk to the previously located area
  4. look around
  5. listen to the sounds around you
  6. smell the air
  7. let your mind wander
  8. feel the freedom
  9. enjoy the lightness of your soul

How do YOU plan to connect with Mother Earth to tap into that raw energy and potential?

P.S. 1. If you have not heard, there is a new mental health hotline in the USA. Dial 988 for a suicide and crisis line. (Are there hotline equivalents in your country? Feel free to share so I can add it to the list.)

P.S. 2. Remember that:

You are not alone.

True. I don’t know your circumstances. You might feel like you are alone. I know I sometimes do. But, please take comfort that there are people suffering everywhere. Sometimes you just need to reach out to find an understanding soul. While I am not great at comforting people, I’m definitely known for my listening skills, so feel free to contact me if you want to talk.

Stay golden,

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29 thoughts on “#MentalMonday: Unplug and spread your branches.

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  1. We can’t go out as much as we would like. (That’s another story).
    However we did give up trying to tell our stubborn garden what to do, and it has rewarded our cooperation by turning up with all sorts of interludes along the lines of.
    ‘What’s that?’
    ‘I dunno. Something we planted years ago I guess?’
    ‘It’s lovely’
    It’s thus a wild. natural place, with some bits of artificial green to keep the concrete out of site and stifle one very mean weed. Bees, butterflies and other insects visit us. We love it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A lovely post, Sam, and lots of good advice, too. I love being out in nature. As you know, I’m lucky as I have the river and countryside at the bottom of my road and also a big garden of my own at the back of the house. I’m passionate about nature, all of it, animals, insects, bees, butterflies, flowers, trees, the riverbank and more. It brings me great joy and I never take it for granted. Even if I don’t feel up to going out, I’m fortunate that I can look out of my back window and see nature in front of me. I’ve just installed a hedgehog feeding station, made by a friend, so am now eagerly watching to see if I get any little prickly friends visit in the night. I’ve not seen one yet but I’m living in hope as there are plenty of places for hedgehogs to live out there. Fingers crossed I’ll see one soon. Nature does us a power of good if we only stop to notice it.

    You asked about emergency or crisis phone lines. We have the Samaritans in the UK and they are there for anyone who needs to talk about anything or is in any sort of crisis including mental health issues and suicidal feelings. Their number is 116123. Thanks for sharing your emergency number too. You never know who might be reading this – someone may need help now, so thanks for mentioning it. X 🌞

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Lots of great information to think about, Sam. I recently reorganized my house, so my new “morning room” with my recliner and side table now looks out my back window. I see plants, animals, and lots of flying things. I love watching the lightening bugs in the evening and all the critters (squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, lots of birds) during the day when I am inside. I spend lots of time in the yard and I agree, it makes me feel better. That is the big reason I go south in the winter, so I can get outside in the sun, trees, plants etc.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. A brilliant post and call to nature! I live out in the countryside, and although it’s at something of a drive from the conveniences afforded by larger towns, there are so many wonderful sights and types of wildlife here. Like coyotes singing in the night and Canadian Geese flying down to stay at the nearby lake and enjoy the warmer weather. Even then, though, you’ve inspired me to seek out the nearest forest as well. Thank you for that!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Having lived in the country most of my life being surrounded by nature seems natural to me. I have a great appreciation for it but tend to forget that to a lot of people this is not normal. I have been trying to spend at least two to four hours a day outside at the farm. Today when I was weeding the prayer garden my husband asked if I wanted to listen to the radio. I told him ‘No, I prefer to listen to the birds and bees and frogs.’ I think embracing nature with all of our senses is important so don’t forget to take off the shoes once in a while and go barefoot (another healthy habit). πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My daughters all grew up in the country and have moved to the city. The oldest and her husband are working to move back to the country to raise their family. The others always enjoy visiting the farm fora respite and they love to show it off to their city friends.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Goldie, I am one of the most blessed people on the planet to be living where I do. (Being retired helps, too.) I can go for a walk every morning for about an hour and enjoy the woods, the flowers, the lake, the pier, the seagulls, a soaring eagle, a deer, wild raspberries, fall leaves, acorns, etc. (depending on the time of year.) I never, ever take my cell with me. This is my prayer time, and by the time I get home I feel physically, mentally, and emotionally ready for the day. My ADD mind often has a hard time getting out the door with all the distractions from my cell phone and my own mind, but once I’m outside … πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for the reminder to stop and enjoy the peace of nature. I have a perfect place very close to me that I drive by going to/from work. It’s a nature reserve filled with all things green. They have dog walks, trails, and walking paths that deer cross on occasion. There is a man-made lake with creatures…turtles, fish…It’s a nice scene.

    I know about it because I walked the trails for a very relaxing day. But that was LAST YEAR. It’s time to get out there again. In this case…stay green.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great reminder for everyone, especially those trapped in that infamous loop. With my recent vacation, I got around to doing just that, connecting with the outdoors, breathing in the freshness of new places and all the preserved nature. I definitely crave it a lot nowadays but I’m glad we can always, on a whim, decide if today (or any upcoming day) is a good day to breathe in some nature.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I bet you feel renewed! Even though I often say I need a vacation after a vacation, it helps a lot to be able to just go away and explore. And if you can’t, find something closer to home. It’s amazing how a local park can bring you back to an equilibrium.

      Liked by 1 person

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