Mental Wellness & Mindfulness in the Garden E-2: Breaking Negative 'What If' Scenarios & Creative Planning

Posted by Gary Pilarchik on

During these times of the pandemic there are clearly legitimate reasons to be worried, scared, anxious and stressed. We should feel them and express them. We also need to recognize we can get caught in negative chains of thinking for unhealthy periods of time. Mental wellness activities are not about pretending everything will be fine. They are used in conjunction with feeling what we feel. They are about recognizing where we can step in and take a break. In this case break negative thoughts. It is easy to get lost in negative chaining events for hours. It's not the worrying that is a concern, it is the length of time spent doing it.

Here is what is a more normal chain of thoughts. "I am worried about my son and how he is going to manage through this outbreak. I hope he is okay. I should call him and see what he needs."

Here is how a negative chain of thoughts can spin out of control. "I am worried about my son and how he going to manage through this time. I hope he is okay. What if he gets sick. He doesn't know how to manage. I don't know the health system where he is at. I wont be able to fly there. They probably will shut down the airports. How can I get to him if he gets the virus. I don't think I can drive there. That car is so old it would probably break down on the highway. I don't have the money to get stuck and pay for a hotel. They might even be closed. How would I handle being stuck in the middle of nowhere.What am I going to do?"

This may or may not be something you do but I would suspect we all do it to some to degree. The video I did is about actively taking the 'what if' scenario and turning into a creative exercise. In short, you might say, "What if I moved some plants here. And what if I were going to redesign my garden and add some new plants. What would I like to add" By actively guiding your mind, you take control and get lost in a positive activity for a short period of time. This is one way to give your mind a break from stress and worry. It takes practice to use new skills. The video is a practice tool. When negative thoughts are rolling, we often don't realize it. You have to actively step in and intervene.

Mixed in with the video is walking through a garden and looking at what is there and what has changed. The active process of focusing your senses to what is present and in front of you will occupy your mind. Combing the 'what if' creative exercise while actually walking around noticing your plants and garden will engage your 5 senses. A mindfulness walk is fully engaging yourself in an activity.

Wellness activities are not about denying how you feel. They are about adding in skills to help you, your mind and your family take a break. In this break you find peace of mind and comfort. 

 Episode 1 of Mental Wellness & Mindfulness in the Garden

 Starting a Wellness Garden


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5 comments

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  • Much too much repetition. Please, please get to the point! How many times do you have to show the caterpillars on the kale. We are not children. Most of us turned here because we do garden I had to turn you off for so long waiting for the remedy. Please!

    Jan Gridley on
  • Hello,

    Thank you for these thoughtful posts. I really enjoyed the mindfulness videos. I find your voice and tips soothing. Am an avid gardener that still has lots to learn (you actually helped me out last week on the radio with an issue with my blueberry bush) and have been practicing mindfulness years. Both have been tremendously helpful during this time.

    PS. I also enjoy seeing your layouts and choices of planting containers. Love re-purposing things and get lots of ideas from your beautiful garden.

    V on
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  • Bravo for spreading a positive message. I am starting vegetables from seed for the first time due to the time that has been given. I had always bought starters from one of the big box stores and I always felt disappointed that I didn’t see the process from the start. Thanks for the great information and great message!

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