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Using your garden to help you reverse negative self-talk

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How many times do you hear - in person or on social media – someone complaining about their weight, their life, or the outcome of their choices? How much do you do it yourself? If you want to move past the destructive introspection, spending time in your garden is a great place to start. The benefits of enjoying your garden can be both physical and emotional.

Gardening, like personal growth, can take two very different paths.

  • You can get so focused on the perfect garden (or perfect figure, job, etc.) that all you can focus on is what has not been achieved. You can be surrounded by beauty, but your thoughts will be consumed by what is not perfect.
  • On the other hand, gardening (and life) can be about enjoying the progress you have made, seeing unexpected beauty and joy where it pops up without warning, and being grateful for good things. Yes, there will still be imperfection, but your focus can be on enjoying the beauty around you.

Change can be good, but it's harder to achieve when you are weighed down with unresolved guilt, shame, anxiety or depression. Replacing negative self-talk and destructive habits with positive growth can give you more energy to continue to grow. The more you do this, the better you will be at it. Now is a great time to start.

So, how does your garden fit into this?

Sunlight, movement and vitamin D

Getting out in the sunlight, even winter sunlight, can have a positive effect on your serotonin levels and your vitamin D. Exercise can help to improve circulation, which helps your body remove toxins. So how can you use this, particularly if you don't feel like digging up your yard in January? In the Charlotte area, we have many reasonably mild winter days. Bundle up, take a cup of warm tea or cider and enjoy sitting and breathing the fresh air. Walk around your garden, stretch or do mild exercises to get your circulation going.

If you hear the negative self-talk starting, STOP! Replace it with observation of the beauty around you and creating small, manageable plans to move in the direction you want. Instead of worrying about a year’s worth of gardening tasks, look at what has already been accomplished. Instead of allowing yourself to get overwhelmed, consider one task that can be done quickly and reap benefits. One easy example? Plant a planter with tulips, daffodils and violas, and place it where it is easily visible from your favorite room.

Aromatherapy and tactile experiences in the garden

Tactile experiences and aromas from your garden can also help to lift your mood. Do you have any herbs growing in your garden? Crush a leaf or two between your fingers and enjoy the fragrance as the plant oils are released. Cut some herbs to use in the kitchen and enjoy as their fragrance fills your home. Have you planted a new lawn or have patches of soft, new growth? I love the feel of running my hands across the top of the soft new growth. Do you have juniper in your yard? What about pine? Both have a lovely fragrance, and branches can be brought into your home and enjoyed.

Fresh air and fresh perspective

Unlike the air in enclosed buildings, the air outside is refreshed by plant life that takes in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Rain also cleans the air. Have you noticed how clean and fresh the air is after a good rain, especially in a wooded area or garden? Take advantage of the crisp Charlotte weather and breathe deeply.
Gardening isn't just about working, it's about enjoying the outdoors.

Take a few minutes to see the good things in your garden. Don't focus on what you haven't accomplished yet. Do you remember as a child enjoying the roughness of tree bark, the sound of water flowing or pressing leaves or flowers in a book? Even in winter, there is natural beauty to enjoy. Tune out the noise of things undone and enjoy the beauty around you.

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