Tulips, daffodils, pansies, forget-me-nots, English daisies, and Iceland poppies. They were all in amazingly colorful full bloom yesterday as I walked through a patch of downtown Salt Lake City gardens. The southerly wind brought pleasant 80-degree air. A garden creek made its way through rounded stones. The sun was shining. It all whisked away my long winter blues. It’s been a particularly cold, brutal winter in Utah with many stormy days bringing significantly above-average snow depths to the mountain—something we shouldn’t complain about as we live in a desert. But this was the first full winter season experienced by Becky and me since we relocated about a year ago from Utah’s warmer southwestern corner.
These feelings of spring lifted me. My step was lighter. My thoughts were more positive.
These feelings only further confirmed to me the correctness of a recent European study that found that “Access to nature reduces depression…” and “Overall, nature is an under-recognized healer offering multiple health benefits from allergy reductions to increases in self-esteem and mental wellbeing.” The newspaper article I read said that “Eleven researchers at the Institute for European environmental policy spent a year reviewing more than 200 academic studies for the report.”
Fortunately, our home is just a ten-minute drive away from canyon trailheads into the rugged, picturesque Wasatch Mountains. I try to hike into them a couple times a week. These experiences also lift me.
I teach weekly NAMI mental health advocacy classes to other individuals who live with mental illness. At the end of each lesson, there is a different mindfulness exercise. These range from carefully studying and then mindfully eating a raisin to listening to music with our eyes closed. I’ve never been one to do much of this in my home on my own. But I’ve realized that when I experience walking through downtown gardens and hiking on mountain trails, I am experiencing my own healthy kind of mindfulness.
A good friend of mine who also lives with depression and anxiety has his own approach to mindfulness exercises. His physical limitations prevent him from experiencing the outdoors as I do. He lightheartedly calls himself an “avid indoorsman”! He says cooking provides him a lift. Also, he does “urban hikes” around the indoor perimeter of a big box store near his home. It clears his head he says. He often describes to me the joys of experiencing certain television programs and movie genres. His tastes are different from mine—but nevertheless, they work for him.
A relative of mine recently described how she does ten-minute mindfulness exercises in her home most mornings and evenings. She sits in a comfortable place all alone, closes her eyes, and ponders life. This lifts her.
Each of us is benefited in our own special way. For our own kinds of mindfulness, we are lifted by all different types of colorful blooms!
via Esperanza – Hope To Cope
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