Going Green for Lockdown Wellbeing

It’s been a rough old time, these last 18 months. The impacts of COVID have forced those who can to work from home, sometimes for the first time. As Sydney stares down at least another few weeks in lockdown, many are starting to hit the wall in terms of energy, motivation and general wellbeing. That’s where having a connection to nature can really help.

Academic research and community programs with groups as diverse as prison inmates to eldery residents feeling isolated at home have shown what many of us knew all along. The ability to spend time in and have a connection to a garden just makes you feel better.

Secret Gardens director Matt Cantwell didn’t realise how vital this was until he experienced it for himself.

“I usually try to avoid working from home (to provide separation between work and family),” he says. “Initially, I was working in the house with a view looking onto the kitchen.”

But he decided it might be easier to conduct staff meetings from the recently completed studio space situated on top of his garage where interruptions by teenage children taking a break from homeschooling would be minimal.

“The studio has the best aspect from early morning through to lunch – it feels beautiful and warm and I can see the sun coming up through my neighbours’ trees,” he says.

“There’s canopy everywhere I look. The space around me is alive and the way the sun moves through the space, it’s uplifting and invigorating.

“It makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger.”

“The space around me is alive and the way the sun moves through the space, it’s uplifting and invigorating”

Whether you’re planning a complete garden overhaul or you just have a balcony or window box to work with, it’s worth putting a little time in to create a green space that you can enjoy from inside, as well as outside, your home.

If you have kids, or you’re after a bit of instant gratification, a small herb or kitchen garden is a great option.

“One of the good things about kitchen gardens is that often it’s more satisfying planting something and watching it grow when there is a significant change in a short amount of time,” says Matt.

If you have family or friends outside your 10km limit, sending each other updates of your planting prowess is an easy way to stay connected.

“My aunt recently moved into the garden studio at my mum’s place and they tell me about the ridiculous things they have planted in all the wrong spots,” Matt says. “But any project in a garden is fantastic for boosting your confidence and self esteem.”

Even if you’re not too keen on engaging actively with your garden, find ways to spend time outside where you can engage your senses and literally give yourself time to breathe. Listening to the bird call and the sounds of wind moving through the leaves moving is a free and easy way to unwind and look forward to brighter days ahead.

Here’s Matt’s top 10 tips for beating the lockdown blues in your garden:

  • Create a destination for relaxing outside. It could be a lounge chair, a firepit or a hammock.
  • Do a stocktake of your garden. Replant or renovate spaces that need a little love.
  • Start a kitchen garden. It doesn’t have to be big or permanent or even terribly attractive. Radishes and leafy greens like rocket and lettuce are quick and reliable options.
  • Have fun and don’t be precious about making it the best. There’s no one to impress while we’re in lockdown.
  • Use the garden to engage with your kids. Grow flowering plants they can pick, do a little bird watching or use the garden as an outdoor art studio that you can easily clean up.
  • Cook outside. You don’t have to educate Australians about cooking outdoors but the options are endless, be it the classic barbecue, marshmallows over the firepit, a pizza oven or tabletop hibachi.
  • There’s something about outdoor cooking that just creates atmosphere.
  • Grab a blanket and have a picnic in your own backyard.
  • Start your day by doing your daily yoga or meditation outside where you can watch the sun come up and breathe in fresh air.
  • At night, consider your lighting options. You could go with a full lighting plan or something more DIY like candles in hurricane lamps or fairy lights.


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