How to support your mental health in every season
Believe it or not, we are not meant to be indoors all the time. Being outside in all weathers can really benefit our mental and physical health, especially when we take it one step further and get creative.
Here are some very simple project ideas for each season of the year.
If you think the gardening season is over when autumn arrives then think again! We can still get out in our gardens or balconies for part of the day or week, even if it is just for a few hours.
At minimal cost, using plastic planters for splashes of colour, why not go ahead and make a bulb lasagne? No, not to eat! But to gaze upon in the forthcoming springtime! This can be a fun thing to do either on your own or with the kids.
It’s simple to do too. Place a few broken crocks or pebbles over the drainage hole at the bottom of the container. Next, place a layer of compost followed by a layer of daffodil bulbs. Keep on adding a layer of compost between each variety of bulbs. Next tulip bulbs, iris bulbs, miniature daffodils, hyacinth bulbs and grape hyacinths. Top with ivy and cyclamens for now, then sit back and wait five months to see what comes up next.
Another fun and very simple way to engage in autumn horticulture is by planting garlic cloves. Either outside in a raised bed, planting in containers or pots on the balcony. Garlic cloves need cold to develop their bulbs and it is a very easy crop to grow, taking up very little space.
Be mindful: Look around at this time of year for five different things you can see. Notice the different coloured leaves of orange, yellow or tinge of pink. On a fine dry day release your inner child and stamp on crisp fallen leaves.
Hyacinth bulbs make super presents and can be potted up now for either flowering at Christmas or early spring. Grab a few terracotta pots and paint/decorate them yourself, or again kids love this sort of thing on a wet and rainy winter's day.
Why not make your own Christmas wreath? Look around your garden for inspiration for greenery such as laurel or holly bushes. Offcuts from your Christmas tree are also put to good use with the addition of Christmas bows from last year’s presents and small baubles. You can either buy a basic foam wreath from your local florist or make your own out of flexible cut down branches from your garden. Fix together with a glue gun or wire threading it through the wreath.
Think about the new life to come by way of the planning stage now for special projects for the forthcoming spring. This can be a good time to work on a blank canvas while your garden is sleeping.
Be mindful: Keep learning, push yourself to engage in something you have never made before.
A busy time of year with lots to do in the garden, and the whole family can get involved by either having their very own patch of land or their own plant pots that they are responsible for.
Perhaps have a sunflower competition by seeing who can grow the tallest. Why not try growing things from your fridge? Here are examples of easily grown vegetables; seeds from peppers/chillies, avocado, garlic, and of course potatoes that have started to go green (to name but a few). It’s time to experiment.
It’s still not too late to target a part of the garden for a special project. Perhaps a beach garden area, pebbles, rope and seaside planting. A water feature with soothing sounds of the gentle trickle from a garden fountain. Alternatively, a nature area full of wildflowers, garden feeders and bug hotels.
Be mindful: Look closely at the new growth in your garden daily. Have that early morning cuppa outside whilst walking around your garden. Breathe!
The grand finale: a carnival of dancing queens with lots of pops of colour in your garden is finally here.
Activities for future rainy days can now be sourced from your bountiful garden. Try air drying flowers from your summer blooms and after several weeks you can make potpourri. Press flowers and set them aside for future art projects.
Try growing some flowers that you can cut for flower arranging purposes; varieties include cosmos, rudbeckia, dahlias and roses. Although you can learn and enjoy discovering plenty more. Don’t forget to collect your seeds as some flowers begin to go to seed before the autumn time.
Be mindful: Give to others. This could be some of your cut flowers, vegetables you have grown or seeds you have collected. It’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labour – remember to have some mindful moments for yourself. Sit back and close your eyes. When you are in your garden area, what can you smell and what can you hear?
So, help your mental well-being by taking care in your garden within each and every season. Gardening is for all ages and achievable no matter if you have a large area, balcony, or small backyard.
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