Minding the Gloom

I’ve been leading workshops on healing in nature for over two years now and yet I’m still amazed at how quickly my emotions and mood alter based on the weather.

Yesterday was brilliant. Sunny, blue skies, the world around me turning green. I didn’t even mind picking up the dog poop in the backyard and starting to rake the tree debris that had fallen over the winter.

Today I find my mind cloudy like the skies I see from my home office window. There’s a gentle mist falling across my view, and the patches of yellow grass that has not yet recovered from the winter season is standing out to me more than the full green patches of grass that beg me to mow this weekend.

My mood swings are so determined by the weather outside. I have always understood Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) because in the dark gloom of winter, when there’s no bright white snow to reflect a sunny day, it’s hard for me to love life.

It’s difficult to take my own advice which, to hundreds over the past few years, has been to take a deep breath in nature, to rub your fingers softly across a leaf you find on the trail, to suck on the sweetness of a wild berry, to listen to the birds and rippling sounds of water and trees around you. Yesterday, after a difficult work-related phone call, my husband encouraged me to ‘walk it off’. So I did. My poor dogs struggled to keep up the last turn of the walk as I powered my anger through my legs and onto the pavement in our neighborhood. I came back and I did feel better. I was still upset, but I was able to still remain productive instead of fuming.

As I sit inside and see the gloom I feel my productivity slipping away, my mood souring, my brain clogged up. Yet for a few minutes when I was outside in that mist this morning, with the dogs, I was happy. It wasn’t too cold and the mist didn’t bother me. I could still see the light behind the clouds and the smell earthy scent of falling rain.

Just as nurses can be the worst patients, I can be the worst at mindfulness and finding my own calm.

On these rainy days, we all need the reminder that light is just beyond those clouds.

The rain will give life to our plants and help everything around it to recover from the dead of winter.

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