Reasons to be Glad

One of my faithful readers took one look at the post I published earlier this week and pointed out it was rather a gloomy read.

I hadn’t realised it at the time of writing it but looking back now it was indeed blue in mood, and instead of pointing to my cultivation accomplishments for the month, I’d highlighted all the things that hadn’t gone well so it was rather a poor post in that respect.

So how come I’d focussed on the bad and not the good stuff in the garden?


Courtesy of Rodney Keeling

Over the previous weekend I’d realised that not only was Summer over but I am clearly going to struggle in the transition from a busy and vibrant cultivation space to a now rather more cold and less flowery space and it showed in my post.

I think it’s fair to say I suffer from a mild form of SAD (seasonal effective disorder) and I bet I’m not alone.

For me this means an odd emotional gear change that happens to me every four months, without fail.  Along with the weather changing, it also effects how I cope with the changes.  Like not being able to get warm even though the temperature has only dropped a couple of degrees or the fact I get panicky when I see the nights drawing in and I feel like time is running out fast in the day and the darkness prevents me going out because it feels like 11pm even though it’s only 7pm.

Eventually I adjust until winter season starts.  Again I hit a low and grapple with the weather.  Then just when I’m getting used to the cold and the dark the season changes once again and then I’m in panic mode missing out on time because now it’s getting lighter earlier in the morning,

Tiredness creeps up on my like a hideous monster, which must be linked to cold weather because even after two strong coffee’s the other morning I felt like another fours hours in bed was just what I needed, where as just two weeks previously I was bouncing around on coffee and sunshine.

Everything becomes an effort at this time of year and the idea of hibernating sounds extremely attractive.

It all sounds rather absurd, and yes is rather negative, but that’s only half the story!

Getting with the vibes

I’ve been thinking about a few ideas that may or may not help me in this rather peculiar mood I find myself in right now.  For one thing time is still time and it doesn’t need to be wasted with me feeling blue.

Clearly light plays a very important part in this issue and even more so when it’s lacking, as does our own circadian rhythm throughout the day.  So perhaps focussing on the following areas may well help:

  1. Adapt and get back the early morning routine – On average I managed three 5am starts out of every seven over the summer so it’s time to pick it up faithfully again.  However this time rather than aim for 8 hours of sleep a night further research suggest quality rather than quantity of sleep may prove to keep this habit going.  Rather than the usual routine which goes something like – go to bed early, stay awake until late trying to get to sleep, clock watch throughout the night, get up early dead to the world – rinse and repeat.  It needs to be more like – go to bed when tired, read until you can no longer keep eyes open, sleep well, wake at same time every morning and rather than partaking in that Sunday afternoon nap (what am I like 90 now?!), take ten minutes out to meditate and get over that afternoon energy dip.
  2. Make use of as much natural light as possible.  On grey cloudy day’s this is going to be tough but light is light no matter what grey form it comes in.  I going to aim to spend at the very least 20 minutes outdoors, in the garden, on a walk, to really feel the daylight, and get some of that all important vitamin D into my system.  (Light lamps are available to buy but not sure what they are like).
  3. When feeling low in mood I’m going to actively search out and look for the positive and even better – look for the inspirational.  Positive people, positive messages, great music, artwork, movies, athletes and even business people.  If one doesn’t work look I’ll look for something else.  Sometimes music really hits the spot but if it doesn’t I’ll keep searching for it.
  4. Keep things simple.  The more I plan my days the easier it becomes to deal with getting stuff done.  If I can’t concentrate or I loose my thought process then I just need to look to my plan/schedule and it re-focuses my attention.

Of course you can’t just lift a mood by simple act of will alone.  I wish it was that easy.

Sometimes the mood just has to be felt as it moves across your body like a slow passing ship.  However, I think, rather than taking SAD on the chin this year I’m going to box it back to the compost heap where it can do more good with the grass clippings and tea bags.

Bring on the autumn 🙂


Cover Photo courtesy of Aureusbay


22 responses to “Reasons to be Glad

  1. I think you are right, Sophie about getting as much light as possible when there is less around. I think it is even more important to get outside at some point during the day in winter than in summer! Good thing about dogs and vegetables is that they get one outside.

    • Yes having a dog definitely helps because she always like to walk! And just to appreciate the garden I suppose in the autumn/winter months for all the work that is going on with the plants etc. You’re very right! 🙂

  2. And… I too get a bit down around late August/early September when the evenings get dark and it seems as if it is all downhill for months. But this year I am finding it easier to go with the flow of the seasons, remembering how excited I get at the winter solstice when the light begins its return – and so seeing this autumn time as leading into that point of darkness and rebirth – and seeing the decay in the garden as plants getting ready for next year! Bit Pollyanna-ish but it’s working for me so far.

    • I actually count down the days to the Winter Solstice I get that excited about it (I do enjoy the summer Solstice too).
      I don’t think it’s Pollyanna-ish at all, you’re onto something there. We do have to appreciate the changes in nature/garden/light etc but I think we don’t. When I say we I mean the vast majority of the population (including myself) who just expect every thing to be the same because it’s too hard what with working full time and generally being too busy. I probably do actually need to slow down and take stock a bit more. Thank you for that it’s given me something solid to think about.

  3. I completely agree about the daylight! I think we can all take something from your plan to defeat the winter blues! I’m looking forward to not working this winter and instead of driving there and back in the dark and spending all day inside, I’ll be taking my dogs and baby Lucas on walks through crunchy leaves and untouched snow…well that’s the plan anyway.

    • That sounds fantastic. I think you can appreciate so much if you have more time or if you work with the land constantly to see and feel the changes. Getting outside is, I think, the key. Along with autumn usually (unless you play football) means staying indoors more because it’s too cold, too dark or too wet but these should be exactly the reasons we want to go outside!
      Let me know how you get on 🙂

  4. I have a friend who swears by her light box. The sun does make a big difference- we moved from a place with long gray winters and many rainy days to a place where the sun shines most of the time, and I feel happier in general and rarely get sick. But the sun can be a bit overpowering at times too, I’m usually seeking shade when Im outside.
    I hope you find a way to have a happy winter!

    • Thank you for letting me know about the light ox because I always wondered. I’ll get there, it’s really a case of exploring and understanding myself more.
      Moving is definitely a great option if you can. It’s something about just seeing the sunshine that puts a smile on my face although having said that I smile even more if it’s after a wet or grey day. And yes it can be just as tiring having too much sun and trying to avoid that midday heat so thank you for reminding me of that.

      PS. – Don’t forget your sun cream 😉

  5. I’m going to be a bit Pollyanna like Veronica and say that I sort of embrace the change in energy in the wintertime (although our winters here are pretty mild). I don’t want to be at full throttle all year, any more than my plants are. I think that the natural world has a beautiful rhythm of sleepiness and quiet in the Winter, ready for the rejuvenation of Spring. I always liked the description in the Wind in the Willows of Badger “being busy” by sleeping in his armchair on a snowy morning.
    It helps that I love to cook and eat wintery foods. I love to be snug on my couch on a blustery afternoon with a good book, barley broth simmering on the stove and a warm drink on hand.
    I host a dinner each year at Winter Solstice for my closest friends (it falls in June here) as a way of breaking up the Winter and getting excited about the returning of the light. We cook warming foods, light a fire and make plans for the coming year. It’s the highlight of my Winter. Apart from your other ideas, is there some aspect of the upcoming season that you like and can get excited about?

    • No, not at all. In fact I think both you and Veronica have hit upon something very important and which I had completely over-seen in this. I’ve been so concerned with being active all the time that I’m not looking at the bigger picture here.
      I love the idea of a Solstice party. I need you and your friends over here!
      And really I need to be more in tune with what good things each season brings, many of which you have noted above rather than just expecting everything to be the same all the time and panic when it isn’t.
      So thank you for that, I very much appreciate your comments 🙂

  6. I’m finding it hard to get up the enthusiasm to do anything in my garden right now because all the jobs that need doing are the ‘remove and compost’ type that signals the end of summer.

    That said, this year I am determined to grow something through the winter even if it’s chillis on the kitchen window sill which made me think that maybe you could fit a pot or two of chillis on a window sill? I’m growing Little Elf and have three seedlings through so far and my thinking is that they can live in the house over the winter. At least I’ll be growing something 🙂

    You could start some strawberries off? Maybe some onions from seed to plant out in spring? Depends how much floor/windowsill/kitchen top type space you could possibly spare.

    • Chillies, what a great idea! A little one won’t do any harm on the window sill will it?! I like that idea a lot. If I had my way every window sill would be full of plants but short of getting at the very least told off and at the very worst booted out I think I better grow sparingly 😉
      I got mardy (probably attributed to my blues day) the other day because I’d filled the garden bin up and yet I’ve still got loads more to get rid of. I need another composter so I know how you feel on that score.
      I’ve planted my swede plants outside and so far they seems to be taking okay, as do the savoy cabbages but I really need to practice my planning more. I need to use every space avilable and learn to use different varieties – perhaps these long nights will give me plenty of reading time 😉

  7. Interesting comment about the special lights — I’d like to try that sometime too.
    I do think you’ve overlooked one huge reason to be glad: you live in the UK, which always seemed to me to be a paradise for gardeners. You have real dirt! (here: seems like rocks and tree roots, maybe a little clay) You have an appropriate amount of rain! (here: seems like drought or deluge) Hmm, now I’m the one sounding sad. On the bright side, there’s rarely any snow or ice here, my houseplants are thriving, and it’s time for the Christmas cactuses to set their buds. Happy gardening —

    • “You have an appropriate amount of rain”

      Lol, I’m just a few miles from Sophie and I think she’d agree that last year the whole of the UK had way, WAY too much rain and this year, our area of the UK seems to have missed most of it for almost all of the summer …..

      …… oh and if you’ve never had to take a snow shovel and/or pick axe with you to harvest parsnips for Christmas dinner, you haven’t lived 😉 😀

      • Yup – way to much rain. I don’t think any of the UK escapes flooding either now over the course of a year. Our area had it bad a few yrs ago, Cornwall before that…problem is you never know where it’s going to strike next because flash floods are all to common.
        Parsnips – yum, that’s just reminded me – those and sprouts, now winter has got something going for it in the food department 😉

    • I think some parts of the UK are especially pretty because of the rain, like the Lake District but for the rest of the UK we tend to get very much typecast with the amount of rain and it’s not far wrong. It can be a little tedious sometimes but hey you can’t have nice plants and green grass without some rain!
      I think what really drove me mad was the length of our winter, and the one before it. They were endless. Well okay, they appeared to be endless but I must make sure that any cold and wet weather doesn’t prevent me from going outside. Having said that I did start jogging in Jan this yr and I think it’s fair to say I’ve jogged in nearly all weathers (I think I’ve only got fog to go now!).
      I love Christmas cactus plants, they are so pretty.

  8. hi Sophie,
    This probably applies to your last blog, however ! one thing I do as winter approaches is to have made sure I have grown as many plants with brilliant seed heads for the garden wildlife, that certainly makes me glad I am a gardener, and reduces the winter blues. Teasels are your best bet, and sunflowers, and evening primrose.

    • Thanks Sally, what a great idea. Funnily enough I do usually grow sun-flowers but didn’t get around to it this yr with all the new work going on in the garden. I shall certainly grow them again next yr though.
      How easy are teasels to grow? I know the birds love them so if they don’t take up too much space I might give that a go.

  9. It’s always a shock to my system when it starts getting dark so much earlier. We try to cope and have actually sat in the back garden a few nights with candles lit. Adds a little romance and helps welcome autumn. I wish you well with your goals and I admire your action plan.

    • I never thought of doing that – candles sound quite fun. So far the 20 minutes a day outside is definitely helping – I’d advise it to everyone. If you can get out into the countryside all so much the better. 🙂

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