More on gardening and emotional distress

I am a bit anxious at the moment and my mood has been a bit up and down with normal triggers of uni stress and relationship stress. This means I've been trying extra-hard to fit bits of self-care into the busyness of my days. For exercise I have been trying to walk to the station rather than driving (a solid 15+ minute up-hill walk which is fine if it's not raining and I don't have too much to carry), I've been spending time around people who make me feel safe and good (hi Clare!) to feel socially connected, I've been careful with my alcohol consumption and sleep habits (apart from the very early wake-ups that I have minimal control over. I don't mind it on days I have to leave early, but it can be irritating on weekends). Keeping things around me reasonably neat and tidy can help with the anxiety but one of the most important things for me personally is a sense of self-efficacy. It's a common thing for depressed and anxious people to have difficulty with, both noticing the stuff they do manage to do, and building up the motivation to get things done. There are all sorts of 'tricks' to focusing on this stuff - from things as simple as writing a specially tailored to-do list (there were times when my list had nothing more than 'shower, eat lunch, pick kids up from school' so I could manage to get everything done) and to make the things you get done small and/or enjoyable. Getting a tangible result is another trick - if you manage to do the dishes you can really NOTICE.

You can see where this is going right? Gardening. It ticks so many boxes! Doing some weeding creates order out of chaos and channels bad feelings into a positive result (although on a bad day I once had to apologize through my tears to every weed as I pulled it out. For real. I think I went and did something with the compost that day). There is also a tangible result - a nice garden is a lovely place to be and it can get that way, slowly, without too much money, just a whole lot of time and hard work. On a good day when I weed the lawn every dandelion I remove is another dandelion that won't set seed. I acknowledge I'm taking tiny steps, but they are steps in a forward direction. Today I was smirking to myself, thinking that if the garden is a metaphor for my mental state then a therapist is the horticulturalist/tree lopper/lawn mowing guy who I pay to help me sort my shit out.

I've hardly done anything in the garden for the last year (after about three years of lots of time and effort) and it just feels great to be getting my hands dirty again, so apologies for hurriedly written posts the overstretched analogies.

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