It’s cold and gray and rainy or snowy and you’re really feeling depressed. Is life ever going to be any better?
Yup, you say to yourself, it must be that spring is almost here. Somehow the end of winter is more intensely bleak than any other part of that cold, dark season. And this time of year seems to encourage gloominess and sadness.
Here are four reasons why applying the Elderyarding® approach to that green space between your house and your property lines can help you lift those megrims.
- Let’s start with food. Many people enjoy the idea of gardening to grow things, especially vegetables that can end up on your dinner plate or in your salad bowl. And studies show that the act of harvesting can trigger dopamine release in the brain. Some researchers theorize this may be an ancestral trait, when finding and gleaning food in the natural world meant you could eat.
While winter may not be the time to plant a veggie garden, it’s certainly the time to browse through the garden catalogs and see what’s new, like tomatoes not stunted by cold when put out far too early in relation to the frost-free date. No studies have been done on this, but I suspect they could find your brain gets a hit of dopamine from imagining that you’re growing the plants featured in those catalogs!
- Something else often recommended if you’re feeling sad and lonely is to volunteer, to reach out and doing something to help others. That act of giving helps you feel better. Well, have you ever stopped to think about the caregiving involved with a garden? Plants need you!
Whether you are actively kneeling on your kneepad yanking out weeds or lifting the hose to water a hanging basket or just taking inventory of what should be done in the yard so you can direct your “yard guy,” plants thrive with you around to care for them. When was the last time you walked around your garden with an eye toward tending your plants and encouraging them to flourish? Yes, you can do this even in the rain. Try walking around with pruning shears in hand to trim a little here and there each time you meander across the lawn. Or check your containers. Do they need a little more potting soil? Are the plants root-bound and ready for repotting? Make a plant happy today!
- One response to depression may be to immerse yourself in work, thinking that way you can avoid dealing with disappointment or sadness. But the work you do in your job may become consuming yet unrewarding. Or the job itself can be a root cause for depression.
On the other hand, you may be surprised at what can happen when you immerse yourself in garden work. You start just spreading mulch on one flower bed. Bending down to untangle mulch fibers and allow them to lay evenly across the soil can cause you to see more deeply and to discover other things that need to be done. You notice that the catmint is starting to spread beyond its home under the rose bush and is invading the iris bed. You need to trim it backbit. Looking more closely, you also see that some of the iris need to be divided. The antique varieties look comfy but one of the new hybrids has run out of room to expand its rhizomes. And looking at the edge of the iris bed, you see that the brick edging is out of alignment, maybe due to frost heave. There’s plenty to do once you start puttering. In caring for your garden in this intricate way, you bring a bit of order to the yard and control to your life.
- And when you’re melancholy, life can seem chaotic. You’re not sure what steps to take to move forward, to take action, to resolve the disorder and chaos. Just walking in, sitting in, or even observing the carefully-designed garden from inside your home can bring a sense of tranquility.
While you are waiting for the gauntness of winter to begin transforming your yard, take time to daydream about what is simple and calming in your garden. Breathe deeply and slowly, pensively pondering the flow of a pathway, the curve of a tree trunk. Notice whether there is still color in the garden. In northern climates, multiple shades of brown and gray branches predominate. In the south, various greens create a stronger contrast with the browns of soil and bark. Notice the transition in these shades that creates a unifying pattern and aura of softness and consolation.