Wellbeing notes: Teachings from an ancient flower

31/03/2023 at 9:09 am | Posted in Wellbeing notes | Leave a comment
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There’s a magnolia tree that I know and love. With spring blooms of velvet pink, it brings pleasure to all who view it. But my magnolia is more than just a bunch of gorgeous flowers. Its cup-shaped blossoms tell an ancient story. And if I slow down enough to listen to that story, wellbeing results. Here are a few of magnolia’s insights.

‘Age is relative’

Magnolias have been growing for 20 million years. In comparison, humans are so young. It is believed that we have been on this planet for a mere 300,000 years. We are new-born babes compared with the magnolia tree. Maybe we should cut ourselves some slack. We are still learning, and that’s okay.

‘Think out of the box’

Magnolias evolved long before the arrival of bees. So, they attract a much older insect: flightless beetles, that chomp the sticky nectar. So, next time you’re grappling with a tricky problem, you might think of an alternative, ‘magnolia’ solution.

‘It’s fine to be a late bloomer’ 

Although my favourite magnolia tree flowers in spring, it likes to have a small, colourful flurry later in the year. And so it is with our own talents and interests. We are never too old to do something new.

‘Plan ahead’ 

By December, my magnolia will be covered in countless tight buds. The tree will protect them over winter, then enjoy a head start next spring. In the same spirit of looking ahead, what could you prepare today, in order to better use your energy tomorrow?

Wellbeing notes: Outdoor spring clean

01/03/2023 at 9:02 am | Posted in Wellbeing notes | Leave a comment
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If you see a piece of litter on a country walk, do you pick it up sometimes, often, or never? In my case, if I’m honest, it depends on the litter. Some items can’t easily be picked up. Other times, I’m rushing past on my way to a Very Pressing Appointment, and I’d rather not turn up all mucky. But I hope that I do try to bag litter at least some of the time. 

When you or I pick up discarded rubbish, we’re contributing to a beneficial practice which has been gaining real traction in the UK, and elsewhere. 

This year the Great British Spring Clean runs from 17th March to 2nd April. Look out for individuals, pledging to fill a single bag; and volunteer groups, working together. For ideas on how to join in, see Keep Britain Tidy. In 2022’s Spring Clean, nearly half a million bags of refuse were apparently collected and properly disposed of. That’s a lot of tidying up – enough to make a visible difference.

Walking outdoors is brilliant for mental wellbeing as well as physical health. One of my favourite local walks takes me through woods, meadowland and over a tiny wild garlic stream, all dappled in sunlight. Over the coming weeks, additional flowers will grow along the route: fragrant bluebells like the ones pictured here; dainty lady’s smock; vibrant orchids; purple knapweed and tall, waving daisies. What I’d rather not see among them is an empty can or plastic wrapper, so if there’s anything along those lines, here is my pledge that I’ll be picking it up.

Wellbeing notes: Putting the fab into February

01/02/2023 at 9:07 am | Posted in Wellbeing notes | Leave a comment
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February can be a challenge. Winter is hard, and in the Northern Hemisphere we’ve already slogged through two months of it. We’ve had illness, snow, and floods. We’ve had storms, and the odd power cut. As I look out of my study window and into the garden, all I can see are bare trees and endless mud.

So how on earth can we start to feel better in February? Here are some ideas…

Bathe in bliss

February is named after an ancient Roman festival of purification. The original version involved making offerings and sacrifices. In the 21st Century, the month becomes an invitation to practise self-care. For example, you might enjoy a cleansing, candlelit bath, with salts. Adding a few drops of lavender oil fits in with the theme of wellbeing. 

Go on a bud walk

The best thing about the month before spring is seeing signs of new life. A country walk may take you to snowdrops, and green shoots that will soon explode into a yellow froth of daffodils. And if we simply look upwards, we may spot the first soft brushes of blossom against a cool, clear sky.

Be kind in unexpected ways

Random Acts of Kindness Week runs from 12th to 18th February this year. Write a note of appreciation, or phone a friend or relative. Give a compliment or a bunch of flowers to a perfect stranger. Kindness benefits everyone, and it all starts with a good deed.

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