Since the start of the first lockdown in March we have progressed through the seasons and are now heading into winter. At the start trees came into bloom and then into leaf. Now fruits have formed and leaves have fallen. We have watched traffic volumes change, empty busses slowly start to fill, shops and cafés open and close and queues for shops come and go.
These may not seem like important observations but taking notice of the world around you can be important for wellbeing. It sparks curiosity and interest and helps to ground you in the moment and feel part of it. This is similar to the concept of mindfulness which help focus on how our bodies are feeling and how we are experiencing the world around us. This awareness can allow us more control over situations rather than be overtaken by unhelpful thoughts.
Aileen, our Chief Exec, is passionate about promoting mental health. In particular she wants to help remove the stigma around mental health by encouraging people to talk about how they are feeling. She encourages us to “ask people how they feel and really mean it”.
To help, Aileen regularly encourages staff to use the mental form score. Aileen explains that by becoming aware of how we are feeling and why, we can then practice turning negative feelings into something more positive.
Many staff enjoy going for a walk at lunchtime now that the evenings are darker. It is a good way to connect with your neighbourhood and see what is going on. I know I have enjoyed seeing other front gardens and collecting ideas for my own.
The Planned & Voids Work Manager feels that it helps connect you to nature and the planet and become more aware of environmental issues.
As the Health and Wellbeing Coordinator, I try to remain aware of my own wellbeing as well as our customers. I have long recognised the importance of nature for wellbeing and this year my garden has become more important than ever. I am not alone as a number of other staff enjoy gardening.
One of our IT Support & Training Analysts has particularly enjoyed spending time in his garden growing vegetables and harvested over 50 Kg of potatoes. He also enjoyed his annual crop of giant sunflowers which reached 10 foot tall.
As I love being outdoors I find winters hard, and so each autumn I plant pots of my favorite winter plants and place them close to a window where I can see them. While it is very encouraging hearing about non-gardeners getting muddy for the first time, I also know from experience that as a beginner it can seem like and expensive exercise with uncertain results. To help I have put together £10 winter tubs.
The following gardening links may also be helpful:
Many people don’t have a garden or enjoy bringing plants into their living space.
In the spring I gave one of our Partnership Coordinators a young houseplant - Pilea peperomioides also known as the missionary plant. She was not a gardener and a little cautious about taking on this responsibility. However, the plant thrived and she was able to propagate three young plants from it. Having lived outdoor over the summer, all four plants have been brought indoors over winter and she has bought two new houseplants to keep them company.