Nature Cure

I have stolen the title of this blog from the author Richard Mabey, who wrote his book of the same name after his recovery from clinical depression, describing how his absorption with nature helped him begin to turn the tide of his debilitating illness.  The reviews of his book are mixed – some people loved his descriptions of re-connection with the natural world, whilst others said it simplified depression and recovery.  However, one thing is clear different things work for different people and psychologists know of research that shows  connecting with nature, can release the “feel-good” hormones and chemicals, such as dopamine, which protects against depression. Let’s spread the knowledge around, you never know who might benefit! 

It has also recently been proven that smelling and looking at certain plants lowers blood pressure, so really, whatever connection we can find with nature surely has to be for the good. 

There are new buzz words for this connection which you may have heard of: “Awe Walks” and “Forest Bathing”.  Don’t be put off by either title – they are simply ways of trying to explain to an increasingly sterile and insulated society how to appreciate and gain from the natural world. 

I don’t have to remind you that we are now in another lockdown and some of you might feel that it is impossible at this present time to have that connection – after all, you are now asked to stay at home and only go out for essentials, work or exercise.  Great if you have a garden, or live in a rural area so are able to step straight out into open countryside, but what happens if you live in a town or city?  How can you connect with nature – and anyway, what do we mean by it? 

Regardless of where you live, nature is never far away.  If you live in a city, there will be a park within walking distance, or a river.  If you’ve been flooded it may all look like mud rather than grass but get your wellies on and go and look for signs of spring. You’ll be surprised by what you’ll see you what you might see whilst walking alongside a city riverbank; someone posted a photograph of an otter swimming, while a friend of mine saw kingfishers nesting in the overflow pipes above the river in a rather run-down area of Sheffield last year.  London parks are a haven for birds and all cities have various birds roosting on their buildings and trees.  A project in Edinburgh would normally have bird watching walks as part of their mental health schemes. Or if you have a garden, put up a few bird feeders and watch the different species swooping in to feed – Pleasure comes from tiny things. To get the mental benefit you have to consciously stop to notice things, so set an alarm on your phone so when it rings, it becomes your reminder to look out the window, go for a walk, or simply check how your houseplants are doing. 

Use your ears – As the day is beginning to lengthen again birdsong is more noticeable – try tuning in to the soundscape in your locality, it may be more interesting than you realise.  

Among the easiest of plants to grow from seed in pots are Nasturtiums, Calendula, (Pot Marigold) and Rocket. It’s something you can do in your own time, or if you have young children maybe they can ‘help’! You can start them indoors and plant out once frosts are over, or simply plant outside later as the weather warms.  Nasturtium leaves and Rocket can be picked and eaten straight from the plant and provide a bit of vitamin C – rich zing to any day, while Marigold leaves have a soothing aroma.  The flowers of all three can also be added to cooking. 

Plants attract all kinds of interesting and beneficial insects, such as bumble bees and hoverflies.   There is a real satisfaction in growing things from seed (plus it’s more economical) and there are many more kinds of edible or aromatic plants that are not difficult to get going.  Have a browse online.  Seeds are easily delivered by post, too.  

If you are home-schooling at present, get a routine in place that your children go outside at the end of their day.  Young children will benefit by letting off steam – you can even help their education by giving them a good old-fashioned nature walk!  Even a walk along urban streets can be educational – you can point out the different buildings, look at the different trees growing over neighbouring walls, look at the history and geography around you.  It may surprise you what you see when you take time to look.  Equally, try to encourage older children / teenagers to go out with you too – they need something to relieve the intensity of online learning.  

Anyone suffering from anxiety and depression may think, that this blog simplifies the depth and seriousness of these conditions – it’s not meant to, it is meant as suggestions to give a little light relief and to offer stepping stones of ways to improve your day – a stone which you can securely build upon to help you and others. 

Click here for more information on Richard Mabey’s book: Nature Cure: Amazon.co.uk: Mabey, Richard: 9780099531821: Books 

If you feel you would benefit from some professional help, please contact us. We’re working online; for a confidential chat on how we can help longer term, call Adriana directly on +447890 667103 or our office 01625 786026. Email [email protected]

https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife 

Tiny tips for living a fuller, happier life! 

BE POSITIVE – We’ve got your back

We’re dealing with many different challenges as we face a possible second wave, so let’s brace ourselves for what comes next! 

The problems we’ve already faced have been tough! However, you can pat yourself on the back for what you’ve achieved. There’s a lot of debate about what seems to make to sense and what doesn’t. We’re not here to get into that debate, we’re just going to offer you some tips, to help you in your day to day life. 

We know now we’re in this for the long haul, there’s no getting away from it, so how do we keep ourselves positive throughout these difficult times for ourselves and our families?  

The frequent changes to the rules require us to alter our mindset and daily routines with each new announcement, and to put in place any number of alternative arrangements; for our work, the way we shop, the way we socialise, the way we take our children to school. 

Let’s review coping strategies that help us respond in a fluid and adaptable way. We are constantly on our guard for the next local lockdown or indeed stricter, national measures. This can lead us to feeling stressed, anxious, upset, irritated or emotional. 

What you’re feeling is completely normal and hundreds of thousands of us are experiencing the same emotions. 

Given our many years’ experience of helping people through anxiety we want to help you understand what’s happening in your mind and give you some practical strategies to use on a daily basis that will help you feel in control. 

Anxiety needn’t look like you’re sitting in a corner shaking – in fact that’s more likely to be fear than anxiety. When we feel anxious, we can get irritated very quickly, not pay attention to what somebody is saying, not feel able to concentrate very well, we can have delicate stomachs, feel on edge, not be able to fall asleep because of thoughts whirling around your mind or you could find yourself waking up and find it difficult to get back to sleep again.  

You may find it hard to relax, hard to sit and read a book, you might not be able to follow a storyline when you’re watching TV, you may find yourself snapping at others. Again, all these things can show you when the mind is in a different place, it’s natural to feel anxious when things feel out of control. 

Let’s break it down and really get back to basics. We fundamentally need 5 things: clean air, water, food, sleep and shelter. If we focus on these things primarily and how we can improve on them in our daily lives by making small changes then we will not only feel as if we are surviving but thriving. 

Clean air – Throw your windows open, even if it’s chilly outside. Clean air will refresh the room, making you feel invigorated as it reduces the number of allergens in your home and will help anybody who has allergies. 

Spend a couple of minutes breathing in the fresh air. We have talked about the benefits of breathing exercises many times before, but it is a quick and easy way of learning to relax and one that we advise many of our clients to do. 

Click here for more information: https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife/posts/2752713634951953

Water – OK so not all of us enjoy drinking plain water, but let’s talk about increasing our hydration to help us feel enlivened and restore our bodies natural balance. Did you know our bodies are made up of at least 70% water? The Eatwell Guide says that we should drink 6-8 glasses of fluid a day – if you really don’t like drinking water, start by adding one glass of water a day, add sliced lemon or cucumber, mint whatever you like or if you can, buy a water filter. Then see if you can increase it! If you drink a lot of sugary drinks, consider swapping 50% per day to something without sugar. We can easily become addicted to sugar and it’s really not good for us! https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/water-drinks-nutrition/

Food – Do you get your 5 a day? Your answer might be does anyone? Did you know that optimum health requires you to eat 10 a day? 

There are some easy ways you can up your quota by making some swaps into your daily life.  

  • A smoothie with breakfast. 
  • Mid-morning go for a piece of fruit or carrot sticks. 
  • A glass of fresh juice with lunch. 
  • Go for a meat-free dinner at least once a week, not only will you be increasing your vitamin intake; you’ll feel good in the knowledge that you are helping to reduce your carbon footprint! It can be quicker and easier than you might think – many ‘no-fuss easy vegetarian’ recipes are available for free on the internet. Or anyone can make a salad! 

Sleep – The reality is that we might all benefit from more sleep. Many different factors affect our sleep patterns: shift work, noisy neighbours, stress/anxiety related issues. However, there are ways which you can improve your chances of sleeping well. These include creating a calm and quiet bedroom, evening routines, not drinking caffeine after lunch and not looking at a bright screen at least an hour before you go to bed which all aid a restful night’s sleep. This is what we call sleep hygiene. Click here for more information: https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife/posts/2750585128498137 https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/healthy-sleep-tips

Shelter – Our homes are our sanctuary but when we have to be in them more often than not, you can start to feel as if you’re getting cabin-fever! 

What can you do to give your home a little TLC which in turn will enrich your happiness and relaxation?  

  • De-cluttering can help to achieve a calmer environment. If you have too much ‘stuff’ around you it can cause you to feel stressed out without you realising. It may overwhelm your senses which leads you to feeling as if you can’t concentrate. Clear an area of your living room or bedroom, even if it’s solely clearing the coffee table! You will feel as if you can think more clearly, start today! 
  • Give everyone in the family their own tasks to help keep the house tidy, if everyone buys into helping each other out, it creates more family harmony and you will all feel more organised! 

If your circumstances change, don’t put your head in the sand, go and see if you can get a mortgage holiday or if renting, find out what your rights are during this period. https://www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-support

Be Thankful! 

Many of us are lucky to have the lifestyles we do and although we may not have the extra leisure/social activities as we did previously. Let’s take stock and be thankful for what we have. 

Being thankful is another way you can increase your level of happiness in easy steps. For instance, take a moment before you go to bed to think of 3 things you can be thankful for from your day: it could be that you enjoyed a healthy lunch, or you had a quick kick about with kids in the garden or simply that you got chance to listen to a podcast! 

If you’re finding things difficult and would like to feel happier in your life, we can help. 

Live Life Not Strife 
We’re available for remote consultations, for a confidential chat on how we can help 
you contact us on 01625 786026/+447980 667103 or email [email protected] 

Please follow us on social media: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife  Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/livelifenotstrife/  Twitter: https://twitter.com/___LiveLife___ 

Tiny tips towards living a fuller happier life!