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  • Fe Robinson

The power of nurture for mental health

A few weeks ago, I finally got my garden mojo back. After what felt like a long, cold spring, at last the weather warmed, and I was out there, weeding and clearing, planting, watering; beginning to tend to my lovely garden. Before I did, I confess it felt like another chore to get done.

It’s been delightful as the weeks have passed to notice that watering and checking on the plants growth each day has really lifted my spirits. Like many gardeners I feel an immense sense of pride as little plants grow, and those that died back last autumn sprout new leaves and begin their voracious climb upwards. The colour is increasing, the bare soil receding, and every time I look out of the window I feel a sense of connection.

It’s the same joy I know many people get from caring for their pets. I am lucky enough to share my home with my cat Jasper, who is also my work mate, he’s a feature of some client’s sessions, his sleepy demeanour infusing the room with a sense of safety and calm as we navigate difficult issues. Not everyone’s cup of tea and nowhere near clients who don’t find him soothing, Jasper is nonetheless, like the garden we look out on, a co-therapist.

Nurturing others provides the nurturer with a psychological boost. Endorphins flow when we feel connected, oxytocin particularly is a feel good hormone that comes from loving and tending to other living things.

Not everyone has the experience of living with other people. It’s good to know that even when this is the case there are opportunities to feel connected to life, out in nature, in the garden, with pets, volunteering with children, the elderly, animals…there are many ways to do it. The trick is finding the ways that work for you.


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