This afternoon I finally spent some time in my garden. I have been meaning to get out there to remove the dead plants and replace them with beautiful living ones for weeks, but given that we are currently experiencing a rather 'rainy drought' it hasn't been very conducive to getting down to work. However, today was perfect: sunny, warm and bright :) I really enjoyed being outdoors and actually felt hot while I was working! (For my international readers, it hasn't been very summery yet, even though it's May!)
In all I was out there for about 2 hours, and it felt lovely to feel the outdoor air in my lungs and the sun on my skin. Even though I go out for walks regularly, it made me remember how much I love being outside in the garden, looking after my plants.
Here are some of my freshly potted plants:
It reminded me of something I learnt long ago about 'wellness'. I was on a course about Circle Time (which is when teachers and their classes sit in a circle and talk about personal or social issues e.g. bullying) - run by the Circle Time guru Jenny Mosely. In amongst all of the ways for teachers to support our pupils' wellbeing was something, which at that time I did not think was mentioned enough - the wellbeing of the teachers.
The idea is that we have many 'wells' where we go to explore and enjoy life. Gardening is one of the activities that covers many of these wells, and the idea is to find a balance between them and visit each of them regularly. Teachers in particular tend to work flat out in term time, only taking a break (and visiting the wells) in the holidays. As some one who has lived through that job and has come out the other side, I can safely say, that is not conducive to living a healthy lifestyle.
So what are these wells, and what do they include? I'll describe them here:
The Cognitive Well:
This includes reading, watching plays, films, theatre,debating ideas, planning or structuring ideas and thinking things through. Using logic to form arguments or understand information. These are traditionally thought of as more left-brain activities. Just like a muscle, the mind shrinks if it is unstimulated, so use it or lose it!
The Emotional Well:
This is filled when you make time for fun and enjoying the company of others through stable loving relationships with a partner, family or friends. This well provides opportunities to express feelings in supportive relationships. (I would add to that, it is important to surround yourself with positive people. If people in your family or friend circles bring you down, it's time to meet some new people to redress the balance.)
The Creative Well
The purpose of this well is to enjoy all of your senses and imagination; a place to appreciate all of the arts -writing, drawing, singing, dancing, playing with colour, texture, sound, scent, taste and movement. In NLP the representational systems that we experience life through are known as VAKOG - visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory and gustatory. If you are stronger in one sense than another, it is likely that you function in that sense a lot e.g. A creative person is likely to be predominantly visual. The key to improving your overall experience of life is to work on improving your other senses e.g. Taking dance classes to experience more of your kinesthetic side or cookery classes to improve your olfactory and gustatory senses.
The Physical Well
In order to enjoy good emotional health, it is important that you are physically healthy too. Exercising regularly, learning relaxation techniques including deep breathing and stretching, having massages, eating well, drinking more water and ensuring that you get enough sleep are all good ways to improve the life of the body you are living in. I think physical closeness and human touch are important too.
The Spiritual Well
This is about renewing your sense of wonder and awe with the world. You may reach this level through your religious beliefs, through meditation or by taking time to be in nature or by just sufficiently stilling the mind so you can experience energy, beauty and grace. I find that travel, seeing new places and learning about the extraordinary achievements of others remind me of how tiny I am am how huge the universe is!
Find the balance within yourself and visit all of the wells on a regular basis
Looking at these now, I realise how much progress I have made over the last few years. There was a time, not so long ago, that I hardly visited any of these wells at all, as I was living a different (unfulfilled) life. I'm happy to say, that I am now living every day to the full and will never neglect my own well-being again.
I'd love to hear what you think about this post, so as always, leave me a comment below or on Facebook or in the Twitterverse!