In winter, we curl up to keep warm and stay inside to avoid harsh weather. But now it’s April! The flowers are blooming, the grass is greening, and it seems as if everything and everyone is coming alive again.
Caregiving can be an isolating and lonely job, and it seems to feel all the more lonely in the darkness and cold of winter. Stepping outside into the sunshine is a mood booster for everyone, caregivers and TBI survivors alike. The sun recharges us.
Spring and summer also give us the chance to see more people in person. Many people take vacations in the spring and summer, and more people are outside. More and more studies are revealing that meaningful social contacts are beneficial to our mental health, and as a caregiver, I know that seeing people in person, feeling the touch of a caring hand or returning a warm embrace can brighten the worst of days.
Our connection to the natural world and each other is an integral part of being human, and it’s through these interactions that we grow. When we sit with a friend and share our feelings openly, we tend to feel better. When we “escape” outside on a lovely day, our troubles loom less large because of the expanse of blue sky above. When we listen to other people tell us their stories, we feel a sense of connection.
Here are five ways to enjoy the growing season:
- Instead of talking to a friend on the phone, make a date to go for a walk, and talk outside. Walking and talking in the sunshine with a close friend can boost mind, body, and spirit all at once!
- Eat outside with family and friends. Do you have a porch, a deck, a patio, or a patch of grass? Eating outside is even better than eating in a restaurant. Be creative and playful and enjoy the atmosphere you can create with a little bistro table or a picnic blanket.
- Plant a few flowers or some vegetables and watch them grow. The sense of accomplishment you will feel will delight you. Watching seeds become sprouts and plants is rewarding, and then you can celebrate the harvest.
- Create a healing garden, a space where you can retreat. Build a cairn or construct a small reflecting pool or fountain, add a space to sit and meditate, pray or rest or read, and enjoy the restorative power of a place of your own outside.
- Carry your yoga mat outside and stretch in the fresh air and sunshine, or better yet, join a small group of friends and stretch together outside.
It’s not just the plants that grow outside when the weather warms up. We, too, can take a break, look outward instead of inward, and appreciate the world around us in new ways. Step out. Meet new people. Share a little of your story and listen to others, and feel yourself bloom in the growing season.