At the end of the year, the holiday season is often fraught with stress and anxiety. Whether you observe any holidays or not, it has been a year full of stress, and the holidays add to those stresses. How do you manage your stress? Your family’s stress? Do you take a walk on the beach? Meditate? Knead bread dough? Pull weeds? All these activities are good distractions and stress reducers. This year, the need is vital for relief and calm; spend time in the garden with gratitude.
Gratitude and gratitude gardening may be the keys to relief from anxiety and the end of the year stresses. Research has shown gratitude helps folks feel positive emotions and promote happier, less depressed feelings. Time in the garden has proven beneficial; gardeners find peace and comfort in nature and their gardens. Give gardening with gratitude a try.
Here are a few suggestions for practicing gratefulness while gardening.
Take a few minutes during the hustle and craziness of the holiday to go outside and simply breathe and be thankful. A deep breath will calm the mind, ease the soul, and allow you to find wonder in everyday chores and actions. Look around and find beauty in all. Enjoy discovering and photographing berries produced in the winter by Fiddlewood, Beautyberry, Coontie, Magnolia, Necklace Pod, Wax Myrtle, Wild Coffee, Dahoon Holly, Yaupon Holly, and Firebush, which decorate the landscape and feed wildlife.
Be thankful for a few minutes to work in the garden when the noise level gets too high. Pull a few weeds, haul some debris, carry and spread some mulch, plant a few seeds or deadhead flowers. Just being in the outdoors can bring peace. Do the work joyously and with gratitude for the extra boost to your mood.
A great last-minute gift for a friend is a hand or computer-drawn gift certificate for an hour with you in the garden where it is easy to spend time with another person while maintaining a safe distance. Be specific; the hour can be spent pulling weeds for someone who finds this task difficult or for the time to enjoy a glass of wine and conversation in your garden.
One of the finest gifts of the season is the quiet and sense of community that often descends for the few days surrounding the Christmas and winter holidays. Take a gratitude walk as evening blooms, watch as lights decorate the twilight, notice the neighborhood birds settling in for a much-deserved rest, speak to your neighbor, and enjoy their gardens at a distance. You will return home renewed and ready to handle anything life throws at you. Spend time in the garden with gratitude; it’s worth it.
This article first appeared in the Treasure Coast Newspapers.