It has now become widely accepted, through research and many people’s own lived experience, that gardening and being outdoors are hugely beneficial for our mental wellbeing. Gardening is recognised as having healing properties, in that it can help restore us to a sense of wholeness and offer connection to the cycle of life. This is certainly something that I have experienced throughout my own life.
Living with depression and anxiety since my teens, I felt alienated from nature and consumed by my own worries and fears about life. It was only after I left home that my relationship with gardening began to blossom, when I first started growing vegetables whilst living as a student in a shared house with a very small garden. It was with great pride that I sowed my first tomato seeds and nurtured them on my windowsill until they were mature enough to be planted outside. This process saw me connecting with nature and myself in a way that I never had before and brought about a shift in the way I viewed life. Seeing those little seedlings appear was like watching magic happen before my eyes, and with them, a sense of accomplishment and confidence in my own abilities also began to grow. My seedlings continued to develop into sturdy plants in the grow bags that became their new home and within a couple of months I was rewarded for my efforts with my first delicious home-grown tomatoes!
Many years later, after starting a family, it was with great excitement that I introduced my children to the world of gardening and they delighted in growing their own little plants. Cress seeds were particularly fun to try first, as they could be sprinkled on the earth to form letters as they grew. Potatoes and carrots were always a big hit, because harvesting them was like digging for treasure, with instant rewards being unearthed by little hands. Peas were also popular because they tasted so fresh when eaten straight from their pods. And we found that there is no supermarket competition for freshly picked corn on the cob, which was particularly sweet when cooked straight after harvesting.
In time I took on an allotment, where we grew more and bigger crops. And not only was it a productive place for growing fruit and vegetables, it became my sanctuary, a safe place I could escape to when life got too busy and chaotic. I often took with me a book to read, or wrote in my journal as I sat under the apple tree on my plot, feeling a sense of renewed peace as my batteries were recharged by nature. But as my life has continued to grow busier I have had less time to spend on there and it was with some sadness that after fifteen happy years I recently gave up my plot.
All is not lost though, and here’s another great thing about nature – it is all around us and we don’t need to travel far to feel its benefit. I am fortunate to have a back garden at home and this is where I am now turning my attention again. But even without a garden you can still experience the joy of gardening, growing flowers and vegetables in pots that can fit on small balconies and windowsills. Or you can enjoy one of the larger community gardens that have sprung up and been cultivated in many of our towns and cities.
At the moment, the world seems like a really ugly place. The news is full of illness, death rates, stress, and chaos, and seeing that on a daily basis can make us forget that the world is full of beautiful things too.
I have recently started enjoying going out for a walk, and actively looking for beautiful things. When I find them, I stop and take a photo, so at the end of my walk I have a soothing photo collection of nice things that I’ve seen that day. Not only does this temporarily take my mind off the stress of going through a global pandemic, but it also reminds me of how simply lovely the world is. You don’t have to have a fancy camera to do this, I just use my phone!
Here are some of the photos that I took on one of my walks last week!
As we find ourselves going another week into the lockdown guidelines, I have an ever growing feeling of isolation and claustrophobia.
I never realised how important being outside was for my mental health until it became so restricted.
I appreciate how important it is to stay home and stay safe but it is now more important than ever to make sure we’re looking after our mental well-being, whilst sticking to the government guidelines.
I find the hour a day “exercise” I get out walking my dog is often my favourite hour of the day.
No matter the weather just the feeling of fresh air against my skin brings an aura of peace and safety that I struggle to find in the four walls of my home.
Be it through your choice of exercise, a walk, run, yoga in your garden or just relaxing in the sun I think being outside even if for just half an hour a day makes an unmeasurable change to your mindset.
This is an incredibly challenging and scary time for us all, but please remember everyone here at Harmless and The Tomorrow Project are here for you and our crisis line IS open for new referrals.
Hi, I’m Ian – a Therapist with Harmless. The perspective I’d like to share is the importance of being kind to ourselves during this time. This is a scary situation, and if you’re feeling anxious or down, remember that those are completely normal responses to fearful situations. But also keep in mind that our emotions are influenced by our thoughts – if we’re preparing ourselves for the worst outcomes or dwelling on the things we don’t have, then we’re naturally going to feel more fear or sadness. But if we focus on the fact that every second brings us closer to the end of the lockdown and the virus, and that by isolating we’re potentially saving lives, these thoughts can help us keep calm and focused. Have compassion for yourself, and remember that this won’t last forever.
At the moment, our daily activities and routines look very different and this can leave us feeling unsettled and unsure.
If you are struggling at the moment, our suicide crisis pathway is open and offering both face to face and remote support. If you’d like support, get in contact and a member of the team will be in touch to arrange a session with you.
Referral line: 0115 880 0282 – please note, we ask that you leave us a voice message and a member of the team will get back to you within 1 working day
Hi! I’m Laura, and this week I joined the Harmless team as a Suicide Crisis Support Officer for the Tomorrow Project. I’m so excited and grateful to be a part of such a fantastic team, and I’ve been welcomed so wonderfully by everybody.
I first heard of Harmless in 2014, when I actually used the service as a client. I stopped using the service in 2015, and in January 2020 I returned to Harmless as a voluntary intern, for which I have been writing an essay about trauma. I have really enjoyed writing about such an important subject, and I’m still continuing to write it from home. As of Tuesday this week, I officially joined the suicide crisis team as a support officer. This week has been a whirl of learning lots of new things, getting to know my colleagues, and being extremely grateful for how my life has turned 180 degrees from 2014 to now. I hope that my summarised story serves as a hopeful reminder to anyone who needs it, that recovery really can happen.
I have come to Harmless after working as a support worker in a low-secure forensic mental health hospital. The hospital specialised in supporting people with personality disorders. Before this, I studied Psychology in Education at the University of York, and spent a lot of time volunteering for Nightline, a listening service for students. These experiences have strengthened my already-existing passion for supporting anyone and everyone with their mental health, and I’m sure that working at Harmless will strengthen that passion that even further.
I have recently joined the team as a new Support Officer for Harmless.
I have a background as a support worker specialising in working with survivors of domestic abuse.
It’s an unusual time to start a new role but what has been clear from my first day is that keeping the service available for people in need during these unsettling times has been the priority for all staff. I’d also like to say thank you to the team as they helped me settle in and answered my many questions!
I believe that being open and talking about how you are feeling can be hugely beneficial to anyone struggling with their mental health, however I also believe we live in a society that does not make it easy for people to do so. Breaking boundaries and challenging stereotypes is a start to helping people and letting others know they are not alone.
I joined Harmless because I really admire the work they do and the beliefs of the organisation. I like the saying ‘be who you needed when you were younger’ and feel proud to work for an organisation supporting people in need and challenging the stigma around self harm and suicide.
I am looking forward to working for Harmless and offering practical and emotional support to people in need.”
“After an exciting career in the fashion industry, I began to feel unfulfilled and wanted to do something more worthwhile with my life. Going back to university to study Sociology and Healing Arts, I entered a new phase of my life supporting students in higher education in Welfare (University of Nottingham) and Specialist Mentoring roles (University of Derby) which lead me naturally into re-training as an Integrative Counsellor and Psychotherapist (BACP). My approach has a firm person-centered foundation and I apply Attachment and CBT based interventions in a creative and client directed way with a strong compassion focused emphasis. I adore what I do.
Joining the Harmless team at beginning of November, I felt almost immediately at home within an environment where the standard of care and support for the client is paramount but also where the support of colleagues and the value placed on teamwork is profound. Harmless and The Tomorrow Project are a team who are deeply committed to quality of service provision, best practice and a positive contribution to the field of self-harm support and suicide prevention nationally. I feel immensely proud to be part of the team. I also feel inspired by the courage of our clients every day.
Being the mother of two wonderful young people, I am conscious of the immense societal pressures on the individual to behave, perform and present themselves in specific ways which can be immensely damaging to self-esteem and the individual’s sense of hope for the future. It is a privilege to accompanying our clients’ in their journey towards a more hopeful future.
In order to stay positive, I practice mindfulness and do lots of running and walking in beautiful green spaces 😊”
Harmless are pleased to offer this exciting opportunities to join our passionate team and help us save lives. We are looking for dynamic individuals, who are willing to develop their skills; work outside the box and challenge themselves.
We are currently recruiting for a Suicide Bereavement Support Officer to join our team.
There is no set deadline for the Suicide Bereavement Support Officer role and we will be interviewing periodically. Once this position has been filled we will no longer be accepting applications, therefore applying early is advised.
Up to 37.5 hours per week
(Both part time and full time available)
Up to £21,819 per annum, pro rata
(Depending on experience)
Please note: Work as part of this role will take place across Nottinghamshire & Leicestershire, therefore driving will be a necessary part of the role applicants will need to hold a valid driver’s license and have access to a car to be able to undertake the position.