As we move through another week of quarantine in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus, I’m definitely feeling the effects of being house-bound and out of physical contact with my extended family and friends. While I’m coming to accept this new normal, I’m also experiencing a pretty consistent level of anxiety (anyone else having a hard time sleeping?).
Decrease the Stress
One way to ease anxiety during stressful times is by actively noticing the good and soaking it in. Humans naturally tend towards negativity bias, which means we’re more apt to focus on what isn’t going well instead of what is. When our lives feel overwhelming or out of our control, intentionally focusing on the good around us may feel even more challenging, But it’s more important than ever. Research shows when we notice the good, we can reduce our stress levels and increase feelings of contentment and joy.
For me, nature is the most obvious place to notice and soak in the good. It’s simple to notice the warmth of the sun, the sweet smell of the neighbor’s honeysuckle and the freshness of the air. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover even more to notice and revel in.
How Does Your Garden Grow?
One of my favorite past-times is surveying our garden day to day (if you don’t have a garden, take a walk around your neighborhood to see what’s sprouting — trees, grass, even weeds!). You might not think much happens in a 24-hour period, but in the plant world, noticing even the smallest change is as uplifting as opening an unexpected present.
One activity I’ve been doing with my 8-year-old is checking in on certain plants every other day or so. We take note of how much taller the peony shoots have grown and which of our three baby raspberry bushes has the most (still green) berries forming. We notice which blooms on the dogwood have opened up fully and place bets on which ones will pop open in the next few days. She’s been snapping photos to track the changes and we plan on painting what we’ve noticed, together.
Noticing the small, beautiful changes in the growth of a tree or the unfurling of a plant’s leaves or the budding peony patch reminds us that nature goes on no matter the circumstances, bringing beauty in to the world. And that’s a good thing.