At times of stress or crisis, our natural response is often to retreat to the comfort and security of our homes, emerging when we feel rested and ready to contend with the world around us. In the unique times we find ourselves in, many people are coming to terms with the possibility of a lengthy and unplanned stay at home, and without the element of choice, this can be a daunting prospect. Our thirst for knowledge and the need to remain connected for news about world events can be a double-edged sword, keeping us informed yet bringing further anxiety into our sanctuary, making it all too easy for worry to cloud our mind and affect our mood. So what can we do to maintain our health and happiness in these testing times? Look out of your window and a world of possibilities will open before your eyes.
As I sit and write, I have a view of the willow tree in my front garden, whose furry buds entice me to reach through the window to stroke them, along with the vibrant new leaves emerging in a shock of lime green. Next to the willow sits an overgrown and rambling hedge, the bane of my neighbour’s life and the love of mine, full of privet, hawthorn, ivy and holly, with a bit of bramble thrown in for good measure, and home to our resident flock of sparrows. They nest in the centre, and pop up through the leaves in a flurry of chatter, hopping the short distance to the bird feeder where they feast on the fat balls and frolic in the bird bath, disappearing in a flurry at any sudden movement.
Mr and Mrs B, our brazen blackbirds, who chatter insolently when the feeder is empty, hop about in the emerging bluebells at the bottom of the hedge, searching for dropped seeds and juicy worms. A pair of blue tits dart through the Rowan branches, adding to the collective voice of birdsong and chatter. Looking through my window, suddenly my world has expanded, and fear is replaced by fascination, worry replaced by the calming thought that nature knows nothing of a crisis.
The world outside our window is waking from its winter rest in a whirl of activity. Buds are bursting into life, shoots are emerging, the trees look effervescent, and the garden has a sense of vitality. Many of us know intrinsically that the garden makes us feel better, and studies show that a view of nature can help heal us, even if we don’t have a garden ourselves. Gardens give us hope of a future, something to nurture and care for, and a sense of purpose and control. Nature knows no boundaries, and will wait for nobody. The grass will continue to grow, the birds will continue to sing, and the world outside our window, however small, will provide us with ample opportunity for quiet reflection or industry.
Over the course of the following weeks and months, I will look to my garden for hope and purpose, and look forward to sharing ideas of how we can all engage with the nature to help us maintain our health and wellbeing. In the meantime, perhaps take a moment to look outside of your window and look at the promise of spring.
More about Rachel...
Rachel co-ordinates the Shropshire Master Composter Programme, and lives in the county with her two young boys and husband. After training as a social worker, Rachel worked in the community with young people for years before her love of gardening took over, and she retrained and combined the two. Now a part time gardener and project co-ordinator, Rachel is also restoring her own wildlife friendly garden, whilst studying Social Therapeutic Horticulture and the benefits of gardening for health and wellbeing.
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