Wellbeing, it’s elemental. Part 3: Earth

Whilst the education world has raged about the efficacy of grades, we’ve been trying to keep things chilled whilst the middle students and the youngest await their what were Centre Assessment grades for A Level and GCSE. Many of my fellow teachers have their internal barometer switched permanently to outrage. I am a  mother who feels the best approach for my own children is not to get sucked into this vortex of destruction and to be ready to support them on to the next stage whatever happens. And so I am keeping myself grounded in the shady parts of the garden.

There has been ample evidence that gardening is good for you. Obviously fresh air and homegrown produce – be it food or flowers is beneficial to your health, along with the green gym aspects of gardening as a hobby. Certainly cutting the hedge by hand and mowing our small patch of lawn with a push mower is a great workout. Nurturing seedlings, keeping vigilant to an attack of pests and dealing swiftly with it, planning ahead by ordering bulbs, taking failures on the chin and knowing next time things will be different is all good for your mental health. But did you know that even putting your hands in the soil can increase serotonin levels?

Contact with soil and a specific soil bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of serotonin in our brain according to research, a natural anti-depressant way of strengthening the immune system.

So, what are you waiting for? Find a shady patch to nurture and feel the benefits.

The Christmas Chronicles Part III – Reflections on the Winter Solstice

The winter solstice is again upon us. The year’s shortest day heralds the onset of deep winter but it also promises the gradual return of the sun after a prolonged period of darkness. Our ancestors knew this. Since ancient times, people have celebrated the solstice and observed it with many different cultural and religious traditions. Some of them survive to the present day. Amidst all the madness of the season find time to get outside into nature. I’ve been banging on about this for years – in the way we’ve raised our children, in the outdoor education work I’ve lead in schools, for social enterprises and the National Trust and in my writing. And if you’re still not a believer in the benefits of being outdoors in all weathers, feast your eyes on this article on why being outdoors makes you happy.

If nothing else I’ll be heading over to the allotment for an hour to chill, tidy up and pull a few leeks to make soup.

Happy Winter Solstice,people.

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