Office-worker turned horticulturalist, Alison Ubels shares her insights on the importance of finding balance and creating opportunities to recharge.
Many moons ago I worked in an office as, what might just have been described as, a secretary. Though heaven knows how I got the job in the first place as I could barely type, had few skills on the computer, and no previous experience. The only thing that was perhaps in my favour was a friendly and helpful manner on the phone and a desperate desire to make sure everyone got the help they were asking for. Apart from being dead scared that I wouldn’t be up to scratch, my office was a haven where things were clean, quiet and a world away from three young children and a messy house.
A horticulture qualification later and I am now outside all day every day; talk about two extremes!
It is hard for me to imagine that quiet, clean world of the office I once worked in, but sometimes I have longed for it. More recently I have realised that, rather than the office itself, it is balance that I long for. Our bodies and minds are designed for balance; when we eat or drink too much our bodies become sick; when we overdo physical activity we get sore; when we spend too much time using our mental capacities but don’t temper it with rest we can become emotionally fraught. Balance is vital for our physical and mental wellbeing. And oh I have been caught out not heeding my own advice. When I have completely over done it I find I have to spend a week on the floor, barely able to move, every part of me aching, and with no inclination at all to get up.
For me balance would be to spend time inside, contemplating, cognitive, quiet. It would be to take time out each day to slow my body down, sit down, stop.
For those who work in an office, balance would be to spend some time clearing the mind of busyness, slowing the overworked brain. It would be to get up, go outside and move, stride, breathe deeply.
Whether you work from home or in an office in a high rise building, whether you are in the suburbs or the city centre, there are opportunities to get out to enjoy nature, to really notice the natural world. Look up and out, look into the distance, see towering trees, blue sky or clouds, or look down, stoop down, to see a flower, smell, marvel at the creation. Watch the bees, birds and butterflies, the ants being busy.
Wonder around the garden, noticing the small things, walk round the block and enjoy other people’s gardens, stride round a park and breathe deeply, feel the tension drop from the parts of the body or mind which have been overworked. Time out can be as short as a lunch break, an hour after work or a longer drive on the weekend. Yesterday I felt that I had had a whole week off work whereas in reality I had spent a couple of hours at the National Arboretum, not busy, just marvelling.
Of course as an horticulturist I am biased towards enjoying nature but it wasn’t always so. I hope you too can renew or begin a relationship with nature which brings you both physical and mental health.