I have a chronic Anxiety disorder. While it is not always a problem, I frequently obsess about the mistakes of my past and think others pay as much attention to them as my anxious mind does. Also, during difficult times, I can create immense fears of my future, assuming there is no way I can handle what life will throw at me. The emotional, as well as physical, pain of Anxiety can seem overwhelming.
Luckily, there are many tactics an Anxiety-ridden person can use to abbreviate their period of distress. One effective practice is to jostle your mind out of the past or future, focusing, instead, on “the now.” Mind you, this isn’t just “snapping out” of your Anxiety. It is highly intentional and often disciplined work to get your brain to move from swirling around “fight or flight” chemical reactions to either a more neutral or even better place. Some sufferers focus their mind for quite some time on someone or something they are grateful for in order to find relief. Others count how many shades of green they see around them. (No kidding, it can work if you look long and hard enough.) I’ve used both of those tactics successfully. However, the most common thing I do during the summer is to head out to my garden and become fully aware of how my five senses ground me in the present, making the past and future disappear.
I love gardening. And I love the real, good food that grows from soil I helped build. I especially love the numerous varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers I can grow because I use a diversity of heirloom and open-pollinated seeds. In fact, I’ve been known to have between 30 and 50 varieties of plant-life vying for space in my raised beds as well as pots of various sizes placed throughout my backyard.
When I step into my garden, I don’t only envision the harvests. My imagination also runs wild at the life forms around me. For instance, when a baby potato plant pops up through the soil, it reminds me of Oscar the Grouch. When a bean seedling casts off its protective shell, I think it looks like Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors. And I can’t help but see squash plants — from seedling to adulthood — as some sorts of alien creatures.