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Managing stressful times

Yesterday I took a day off from all media. I was feeling quite overwhelmed and helpless. All the worries, overload of information, speculation, endless thinking, the uncertainties, just living in your head. I really felt the need to reconnect with the physical world and have some time out.

I am lucky to have a little garden, and I love gardening. But somehow, I don’t find the time to do it very often, it’s just not a priority most of the time. Yesterday it was the perfect thing to do though.

Doing something physically active which also requires your attention is a great way to give yourself a break from living in your head. It also has many health benefits such as releasing endorphins – feel good hormones, increasing your blood flow and blood oxygen levels which will help you think more clearly and it’s a moving meditation – your mind will be able to slow down and focus on one task which is extremely relaxing.

So here are the things that really helped me come out of my head and just be. I felt like a new person afterwards!
  • Mow the grass – something I had been putting off because it’s usually quite boring I find. But it was a perfect task – being out in the fresh air and doing some exercise (the grass was so long my poor little lawn mower was bouncing all over the place and choking up! But this just added something to focus on). It was so satisfying to see my nice little lawn neatly cut by the end!
  • Pull up the weeds – another task that I had been putting off because my garden is riddled with them! All those stinging nettles are now on the compost pile and my flowers can breathe for the next few weeks! The amount of focus that is required to weed a garden will take all your attention – where to step, not too pull up the wrong thing, not to get stung by nettles or pricked by brambles, keeping your balance when digging holes. These are all good things to bring you back into your body and just be.
  • Planting out some flowers and sowing seeds – planting flowers is the best part of gardening. It is deeply nurturing to enable things to grow. You feel a sense of pride, of responsibility, of joy. And you are creating and enabling something beautiful to grow. Feel that sense of joy and gratitude for the beauty of the natural world.
  • Assembling some IKEA furniture – one of those things that I thought I would do straight away, but this stool has been flat packed for months! Not only am I delighted that I can now reach the top cupboards in my kitchen, I wasn’t worrying about anything while I was matching screws to holes!
  • Walking the dog – this is something I do every day and it can become mundane. But recently I have walked a different route, taken more time to observe the changing nature, just soaked in the sunshine. Why not put your phone on airplane mode and just walk the dog, experiencing nature like your dog does – in the present moment. If your mind wanders, try something like counting the birds you see, or hear. Or see how many different types of trees you can see (quite challenging without the leaves!)
Some other suggestions which are on my to do list:
  • Deep clean the oven – perhaps you don’t have a lawn to mow, so how about cleaning the oven! Its not something any of us do very often because it is physically demanding and takes a long time. Putting on some rubber gloves and getting down on your hands and knees, focussing only on scrubbing burnt grease off some glass, is not appealing most of the time. But when you are stressed, this can be a fantastic way to divert all that negative energy.
  • Laundry – other than the regular laundry, wash the bedding, wash the dog bed! Wash the sofa covers – its perfect weather to dry them too!
  • Spring clean! – it always nice to do a deep clean of the house in spring. Be that cleaning the windows, cleaning the bookshelves, cleaning the inside of kitchen cabinets, scrubbing the bath, the list goes on! All the things that we don’t get to do on a weekly basis. Just choose one that most appeals to you! Don’t try to do them all – that will be more overwhelming!

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