The other day I heard someone say how boredom can become a real issue when struggling with mental health issues, and how being interested by nature and seeking out new species can be a help. It made absolute sense I thought. If mental health issues oblige you to take time out, to step back from work or other activity, then the hours may feel long. In turn, this can tip you further into overthinking, fear or depression.
Nature is a constant stimulus, partly because it is ever changing through the year. And yet I have to remember to look out and notice. Earlier this week I noticed reddish tips on a conifer tree I walk past regularly. Now I want to find out what they are. Are these flowers? Do conifers even have flowers?! I know so little about them. And how many times have I passed this tree without seeing reddish tips before, maybe in previous years? I see the tree, the only conifer along that road, but fail to notice this. Now that it’s spring I look out more – the day I saw the tips I also noticed a patch of dog violets and hazel and hawthorn leaves opening on bushes.
Spring feels like a fresh start, a new opportunity. I sometimes think spring would be a better time for New Year, it feels more of a fit. This in itself may be depressing if no fresh start feels possible for you. It can also be daunting if you’ve shelved plans and tasks over winter and now need to press ahead. No more excuses…
But spring is a time of renewal. Lighter days, warmer temperatures, plants growing, birds singing. Maybe weather shouldn’t so impact mood but it is proven to do so. In one way nothing really changes with spring, in another everything is different.
Spring can encourage creativity – maybe drawing or painting spring flowers, as I’ve been enjoying lately, or for some people, writing or photography. Songs and music of all different styles draw on sunshine and flowers and spring, like Edelweiss from The Sound Of Music or It Might As Well Be Spring by Ella Fitzgerald. They’re all responses to spring. So too is growing and planting, in however limited a space. Whether you sow seeds on a windowsill or in a garden or on an allotment, it opens up another dimension, other stimuli.
Our minds thrive on stimulus, the more multi-sensory the better. Without stimulus, research has shown we are more likely to develop cognitive decline or even dementia, and to experience depression. Technology has brought us more stimulus than ever before, but the contrast of natural stimuli is important as well.
Just try looking. You never know what you might see. It would be great if you have any thoughts or experiences to share in Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002? Thank you.