Words by Laura Bayliss
Another year, another lockdown… We’re all suffering from lockdown fatigue by now (read: WHEN WILL THIS END?) and never has the mantra ‘dig deep, dig deeper’ felt more fitting. Gone are those innocent days of #bananabread. If there’s one thing we’re learning about our ‘new normal’, it’s how important stepping away from the endless scrolling and taking a pause are for keeping our sanity in check and to stop us flipping the lid of our laptop mid-Zoom. An unexpected benefit of our enforced quieter lives is a greater connection with the natural world – even if that just means watching it get dark at 4.30 from our kitchen table office. Nature is a great leveller and can help keep us calm even in these trying times. Since staying inside is testing even the most antisocial introvert, read on for ways to rebalance and connect with the green stuff, whether you’re looking out the window or going on a quick ramble round the block. Let Mother Nature give you the hug you’ve been missing.
Let the nights draw in
Embrace the early evenings and stop complaining about how dark it is. Instead of turning on all the lights as soon as it looks a bit dusky, get back in touch with how we lived in ancient times with a few candles. The softer glow is calming on your nervous system and you’ll be more in tune with your circadian clock. Ideally, have a tech break too until tomorrow but if that’s not possible, put one of those blue light filters on your devices. Sit back and watch the sky-on-fire winter sunset. Better than Netflix.
Midnight nature club
Nature doesn’t sleep. So if, like millions of people around the world, those zzzs have become a bit elusive in recent months (there’s even a name for it: coronasomnia), don’t lie in bed feeding your anxiety. Get up and peer out your curtains. The nights are never quiet: there’s the nocturnal partying of the urban fox, the score-settling of back-garden cats, even birds sometimes belt out a tune in the small hours, especially in the cities where it never gets fully dark (and you can hear the odd owl even in London if you’re lucky). Look up at the night sky and, as long as it’s not a complete blanket of cloud, you’ll see a star somewhere – yes, even in a built-up sprawl you can usually find at least one doing its best to sparkle. Make a wish on that millennia-old reminder that everything changes and nothing stays the same.
Get a new housemate
We mean a plant pal obviously! Plants are good for us, they clean the air inside our homes (read more on that here), produce oxygen and there’s nothing more cheering than them waving their leaves at you after a long day, or the triumph of a happy plant rewarding you with a flower or two. For a low-maintenance, chilled-out plant buddy go for a spider plant – you’ll have a growing family in no time. Give your existing leafy gang a New Year makeover: pour yourself a gin, wash their foliage, dress them up and throw yourselves a party. Treat them to a new pot, tie a ribbon round them, drape some fairy lights through their branches. Friday night never looked so good.
OK, so it’s hard to make any real plans right now that don’t involve your sofa, but you can plan your plants. Sow some seeds, pot up bulbs and think of good times that must surely be around the corner. If you have space, grow your own outside on your balcony, stoop, fire escape or roof garden. Grow flowers for bees or an enormous cabbage – watching those little shoots appear and reaching for the sky will keep you going in the months to come. Read on for more on planting in tune with the moon.
Bear with us (or should that be bare with us? Sorry…). On full moon nights let the moonlight shine through into your window and soak up its magical silver rays. The full moon on 28 January 2021 is an enormous Wolf Moon, reaching as high in the sky as a midsummer sun and casting impressive shadows to match. Wisdom of the ages says the moon can help your plants grow too – plant seedlings and fruit and veg that will grow above ground in the week leading up to a full moon, and sow things that grow under the ground in the week afterwards.
Bring the nature in
Thankfully, we don’t need to travel far in order to get a healing dose of nature – it’s all around us just quietly doing its thing. Get down to your local park and stomp through the muddy grass, walk the streets and look up at the trees at the side of the road, or just gaze out of your window at the birds getting on with their day. On your daily excursion, pick up a bit of nature to bring home with you. Gather leaves and other foliage and make yourself a wreath or a seasonal display (or just shove them in a bowl if that’s all your imagination can conjure up right now). If you’re feeling that way inclined, why not start a sketchbook and draw your findings as the seasons change?
By which we really mean, take a lovely warm dunk in your bath in the middle of the day – who’ll know? Unwind and reconnect with your inner nature with a really good soak. For an extra dose of botanical magic, try one of these in your tub -
Then give yourself a summer glow even though it’s snowing outside with MOA Hello Sunshine Body Oil.