Hiya, here’s the first post in another series of daily stress releaf ideas. It’s about my Stress Bramble exercise, which may help you if you’re feeling overwhelmed and worried about stuff.
I find it useful to get whatever stress I’m feeling on paper. And find it even more helpful to sketch it out as a bramble of stems and leaves, as if all the stuff in my head is intertwining like vines. Which is how I feel: tangled and messy!
Then when all of my angst and confusion is on paper, I can at least examine it and notice where I wrote the most. Where did I draw the most leaves and words? This helps me feel more aware of it all. And because I’m aware, I feel more in control and able to tackle some of it.
This one from last year shows I worried the most about my sister, which made sense since she was very ill with cancer. I thought about her every day, especially at night. My other greatest worry was, not surprisingly, my kids. The lockdowns did a number on their mental health. Gosh, I’m so thankful we’re coming out of this pandemic!
Have you ever used a mind map like this before? If you want to check out the full exercise, you’ll find it in the Leaf Your Troubles Behind book.
In the meantime, I wish you a stress-free day!
On the night my husband and I signed our will, our friends acted as witnesses. The four of us sat with the notary at the dining table, signing the documents that would outline how and what our kids would inherit when my husband and I passed away. It wasn’t at the top of my list for Friday night fun but we did it. Little did I know signing that estate plan would completely change my life perspective.
An Inventory of Everything
Later that night as I went upstairs, I ran into my two daughters who were getting ready for bed. As we often do, we joked around and touched base about the goings on of the next day. Then the giggles subsided and we all wandered toward our rooms.
As I lay in bed, I thought about how my daughters didn’t know they’d inherit a house and a car and little nest egg of money. They didn’t know all we considered in putting together our plan: what might happen and what the kids might need. Though the girls knew we’d signed an estate plan, they of course weren’t interested. They had school and friends and work on their minds.
Absently I stared at the closed bedroom door. I thought of my sister who’d passed away in May. She was gone from me, and the earth, forever. So what did I have left? I realized what I had left was just on the other side of the door: my kids. Not far away, not gone from the earth, but just a few steps away! Wow. My son, though far away, was in his college apartment with his buddies. He was a text or phone call away. Wow. I had three kids who loved me. That’s what I had left. Not to mention a loving husband.
How lucky am I? I thought. I get to wake up tomorrow and I could, if I chose, talk to all of them. Spend time with them. See their faces.
A Total Shift in Life Perspective
Slowly, my body filled with a sense of awe. Warmth. I was stunned by the love of my family. My husband. Our pets, past and present. I felt thankful for our friends of that night, and others I’d made over the years. All the experiences and travels I’d had.
As I listed all the good stuff in my life, I grew overwhelmed. Felt the power of gratitude. I couldn’t believe what a wonderful life I had. Yes, my sister passed away, yes, my mother-in-law too. And yes, I’d had health problems this year but still, I was here, on earth in this moment. I felt like the luckiest woman in the world. I radiated a happiness I hadn’t felt at such a strong intensity before. It was like my happiness skyrocketed into space. I floated with peace.
Afterward, I made a choice to enjoy my life as much as I could every day. Actually enjoy it. I’d never enjoyed life. I mostly thought about what was wrong and how to make it better. No longer. I decided to hang on to that wild and wondrous feeling I’d had that night. To be happy. For the first time in my life, I realized being happy was actually a choice, not a thing to work toward or that happened from time to time. I had the power to change my life perspective if I relaxed enough to enjoy the good things. And I haven’t let go since.
Have you ever had an epiphany like that? How do you stay happy? Maybe you keep a gratitude journal. If you have ideas, let me know!
Just a quick post to let you know Leaf Your Troubles Behind: How to Destress and Grow Happiness Through Plants is now available for sale. You can buy it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your local bookstore. Thank you so much for your support! This book started as a fun pandemic project that actually turned into a book. It’s aimed at helping you grow a happier in life. Also, read on for the three winners of the Leaf Your Troubles giveaway.
I’m happy to share the winners of the giveaway are Alyssa, Jennifer, and Donna! Alyssa, Jennifer, and Donna, please read your latest newsletter email for details on how to get your paperback copy.
And if you didn’t win, don’t worry. I’m giving away a few more copies on Goodreads! But the offer ends in 7 days so click here for details.
Finally, don’t forget that I’ve created a companion workbook, which you can download by clicking here. Until next time, have a great day and don’t forget to relax with a plant!
Just a quick post to let you know I’ve made and put online the Leaf Your Troubles workbook! This is a 25-page companion booklet of worksheets that dovetail with the exercises in my book, Leaf Your Troubles Behind: How to Destress and Grow Happiness Through Plants.
What’s In There
It’s a pretty simple format. I included Escape to Nature journal pages focusing on the Time Log exercises and Green Personality exploration. It also features a sample Stress Bramble you can add to along with daily Green Leisure worksheets.
I round out the last section with lists of recommended plants, maybe the funnest part! I’m sharing my favorite easy shrubs for most U.S. gardens, easy-to-grow houseplants that are safe for dogs and cats, and plants that propagate simply through cutting or dividing. Plus, good plants for a rain garden!
Speaking of rain gardens, I also include extra activities on getting more greenery in your life, both indoors and out. And so I added basic instructions on installing a community rain garden. Also, a quickie recipe for mint ice cubes that go with the cocktail recipe at the back of the Leaf Your Troubles book.
How Do I Get It?
What I like most of about this format is because it’s a PDF you’ll download on your own computer, you can print multiple pages of whatever page you like. If you want to do more than one Stress Bramble, you can just print two or three copies. If you like the journal worksheets, you can print as many as you like. And you can even print and share the recommended plant lists if you want to as well.
To get your free workbook, click here. Thanks for the support. And don’t forget to rest your attention on something green today!
To buy Leaf Your Troubles Behind, click here for Amazon,
or here for Barnes and Noble,
here for Kobo,
or find it at your local bookstore.
I’m a big advocate of journaling. Writing out one’s thoughts and feelings has enormous health benefits and helps us work out the problems of our lives. Psychologists say it helps reduce stress, boosts our mood, keeps our memory sharp, and even helps our immune system. So what’s even more interesting is how journaling in nature seems to be more powerful. Here’s why.
It puts you in a special, out-of-time place
Even if I journal in my backyard, I’ve taken myself out of the usual, day-to-day equation of work and my to-do lists. In nature, there are no to-do lists because nature simply exists to be what it is. So I find when I’m immersed in nature, I start to simply exist to be what I am too. I feel freer to allow my thoughts to wander and land on whatever topics they’re drawn to.
It heightens your observational skills
When we’re outside, we encounter a whole landscape of random sounds, sights, smells, and all else. It’s not the controlled atmosphere of an indoor environment where we’ve set the temperature and lighting. When we go into nature, we’re subjecting our bodies to a whole suite of stimuli to process. That stimuli heightens our awareness, which heightens our ability to observe and record our surroundings.
It increases mindfulness
Because our senses our heightened and our awareness is more alert, our ability to be mindful of our experience increases. We can smell that pine tree, see how softly the leaves wave in the breeze, hear a bird tweeting, touch the roughness of a rock, and so on. And so, because we’re more in the “here and now,” our attention begins to block out thoughts of the past or future. Our thoughts and feelings simplify, which helps us cope with whatever’s troubling us.
It lowers stress
And so, because our attention is more present and more focused on our immediate surroundings, we relax more quickly. We turn still and silent. There are no advertisements wanting something from us, no social media to make us feel anger or angst, no traffic getting in our way. The random wild thoughts zinging through our head weaken and a deeper sense of restfulness blossoms. That, in turn, reduces our heart rate and lowers our blood pressure, creating a soothing feeling of peace.
It creates more curiosity
If you’re journaling indoors, you may be in your home or a local cafe. This means you know your surroundings well. But when journaling in nature, you may notice a woodland flower you’ve never noticed before, or wonder about the lake you’re sitting beside. These features of nature may create questions. What is that flower? How deep is that lake? And the more curious you become, the more you’ll learn, thus feeding your mind and creating a tiny sense of accomplishment that boosts confidence.
I’ve found journaling in nature relaxes me much more than when I journal in my home. Even if I’m working out angsty problems that relate to my day-to-day work and life, I’m less sucked in emotionally by it. I gain a useful, detached perspective that serves me well when I go back in. Plus, whatever insights or conclusions I’ve gained feel like icing on the cake. And that in turn, makes me feel more grateful for the life I have.
Do you ever journal in nature? If you do, let me know how! I’m always looking for ideas.