Take me to the river

A year before the pandemic we moved to a flat directly overlooking a river. Initially we worried that it could flood (it had done in the past) but it was so picturesque and mesmerising that we took a chance and, despite some freak weather when the flood gates got locked and we lost a beautiful black willow, we remain mostly dry and intact.

When home working became the only way of working in March 2020, I was fortunate enough to be able to put our kitchen table next to the living room window overlooking the water and comfortably work there for the foreseeable. Over the past year I believe this is what’s kept my mental health at a reasonable standard through these troubling times. I’ve barely left the house and I gave up on daily exercise a while ago. I’m just so busy and I know I should make time for it, but I’ve pretty much remained at my makeshift desk watching the seasons change, the weather swing and the river continually flow no matter how ‘stuck’ I’ve felt personally. This has been a great source of comfort and wonder throughout the pandemic.

Rivers by their very nature have a way of working themselves out. Eventually they end up moving at the right pace and ending up in the right place. The river represents our own personal journey and how it fluctuates over time. Rivers venture, they explore different paths. Rivers have periods of frantic twists and turns but they can also have gentler moments. Just as in life, sometimes we might feel overwhelmed when we get too busy, too fast paced. At other times we can sit back, relax and let the gentle flow take its course.

In between meetings and emails, I’ve seen more nature than I ever could have in the office. Sometimes just a few minutes watching the rippling currents, noting the wild plants burgeoning around the embankment or studying finches gathering materials for a nest is enough to remind me that nature is more important than a deadline.

Nature prescriptions by GPs are now a very real thing to combat poor mental health in Scotland, where nature is often on our doorstep https://www.thenational.scot/news/18841492.doctors-scottish-city-set-trial-prescribing-nature-cure/.

I’m very lucky. Despite not getting out much I’m grateful for this world at my window. The river and nature has punctuated my daily life in ways I never want to change. Thankfully, I’m still at my window as I type today. As office restrictions ease, I’ll be sad to leave my little corner of the living room but I’ll have learned the lesson that just a few minutes watching nature, whether we call it mindfulness or not, can make all the difference to having a good day or just a productive day.

Mental Health Awareness week is hosted by Mental Health Foundation and this year’s theme is nature. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

Image by Water of Leith Conservation Trust, 2021 http://www.waterofleith.org.uk/