Compassionate Caregiving: Nurture nature and find your Zen

PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Laura Nissen PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Laura Nissen PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Laura Nissen PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

As this month’s theme focuses on the home and garden, I wanted to share a healing practice that I have perfected during a lifetime.

Each Saturday morning, I rise. I make coffee. And as fast as humanly possible, I get dressed and go outside.

I did this (minus the coffee part) when I was a little girl. I did it as a young adult. And I do it now with the same enthusiasm.

It is as if I will run out of oxygen if I can’t get outside fast enough to see how my garden grows.

Within minutes of opening my eyes, I am checking on what plants need attention, which ones need to be transplanted, which ones need more sunlight and which need to be trimmed or deadheaded.

Within about 30 minutes, I note that all is well in my world. Any stress that I had from the previous week falls away, and all is well with my soul.

I love the sunshine, the fresh air, the plants that rely on my care, the bees and butterflies, the buds and blooms. I call it my “Zen time.” I always feel better in every way. It is a deep sense of calm and happiness.

What I have come to understand as I get older is that gardens can promote deep healing of body and spirit.

According to the Mayo Clinic, we need to find ways to cope with modern everyday stressors. Working in the garden reduces cortisol levels, melting away anxiety.

I find it fascinating how caring for plants can help us find a moment of peace, whether it is a few houseplants on a windowsill, a terrarium in our front window, a small container garden on our patio, beds and borders in the yard or a large vegetable garden. The act of gardening is good for us physically, emotionally and psychologically.

I leave you with this quote that says it all so perfectly: “We might think that we are nurturing our garden, but in fact it is our garden that is nurturing us.” (Author unknown.)

So, get out those gardening gloves, your hat and your tools and get out there in the sunshine. Nurture nature and yourself, and at the same time, and feel the peace wash over you.

Laura Nissen is an Alzheimer’s Association volunteer who advocates for those with memory disorders. She works with families to help them learn the skills of caregiving. She also serves as a community educator, caregiver support group leader and Memory Café leader for the Alzheimer’s Association.

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