Hobbies such as gardening can be a great way to take on stress and stay active when living with bipolar disorder.
Having bipolar disorder can take its toll on our physical health as well as mental health.
I have found one of the best ways to combat this is by having a hobby that is some form of exercise. For some people that could mean playing badminton, tennis, golf, horseback riding or swimming.
The exercise that helps me reduce stress the most is gardening. I bought my condo townhouse 6 years ago and never knew when I bought it how much I was going to enjoy being outside in my garden in the summer. The selling feature on this house was that the backyard faces south and there is a roadway behind me so I feel like I have more space than I actually do.
Although I have neighbors on either side of me my 20′ x 15′ backyard feels much bigger. Although I have neighbors on either side of me my 20′ x 15′ backyard feels much bigger. The first fall that I owned my home I planted a Rose of Sharon bush. In the previous 15 years no one had planted anything in the back yard. It was all weeds and grass. In the last 6 years I have expanded my garden to include perennials and vegetables.
Along the perimeter of my fence are my perennials. Directly in front of my deck is my vegetable garden and in the southwest corner of my garden is my potato patch. Along the west fence is my pride & job: a concord grape vine. As soon as the warm weather hits I am outside “digging in the dirt.” I add manure and topsoil every year to my garden. The soil needs to be turned 2-3 times before I plant. It loosens it up so the roots have an easier time taking hold. My vegetable garden includes rhubarb, green onions, yellow onions, peas, beans, carrots, romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce, kale, peppers, cucumber and a tomato plant.
You might wonder how I get all this into such a small space. You don’t need much room to grow vegetables. I plant them close together so that the weeds don’t come through. Yes, my vegetable garden does need weeding on a regular basis until the produce gets bigger.
When I am working in my garden I forget all about my troubles. Having bipolar disorder is the last thing on my mind. I am just like any other gardener, tending to my plants and making sure they have enough water.
Stepping out my back door in the morning and bringing in what I am going to have for lunch that day is an absolutely wonderful way to start my day. I can’t figure out why more people don’t turn to gardening for therapy. Knowing that I have nurtured and cared for these plants and vegetables gives me an immense about of pride and joy.
I happily share my harvest with friends and neighbors when I can’t eat the produce fast enough. I have my parents to thank for my love of my gardening. I grew up on a farm in Southern Ontario. I would have to help with the gardening and weeding in the summer. Even though I have lived in towns my entire adult life you can’t take the farmer out of me.
The picture attached is what my backyard looks like in July.
Planting a vegetable garden is simple.
Here are the steps:
1. Dig up grass & get rid of it.
2. Add about 6 inches of manure and top soil to the area. I’m told sheep manure is the best. Add some more manure & topsoil every year.
3. Dig up your garden and turn the soil over.
4. Wait until the soil temperature is 60 degrees. In southern Ontario, which is where I live, that is usually about May 24th.
5. Read instructions on package and plant seeds.
6. Some vegetables are better started indoors or buying already started such as tomatoes and peppers.
7. Keep soil moist. If it hasn’t rained in 4-5 days water your garden.
8. Wait about 2 weeks and plants will appear.
9. Weed as needed.
10. Within 4 weeks you will be eating kale, lettuce & green onions. The other produce will mature over the course of the summer. Potatoes take 60-90 days before they are ready but you can dig a hill or two to have new small potatoes
When Lynn Rae was 39 years old two psychiatrists told her that she would NEVER work full time again. She had accepted the diagnosis of bipolar disorder but would never accept the prognosis. After working part time at several different jobs between episodes of depression & mania Lynn was finally able to work full time and has been since 2009. She has now enjoyed over 10 years of good health. Lynn Rae can guide you in making those important decisions in your life surrounding Family, Friends, Fun, Fitness, Fulfillment, Finances & Faith through her Keynote “The Seven F’s to Your Fantastic Future.” She has written 3 books and self-published one of them which are available for sale on Amazon. Lynn received the Marilyn Nearing Award from York Support Services Network for the contribution she was making as a volunteer in the mental health field. Lynn Rae has her own business, GTA Office Services , in which administrative tasks are done virtually for her various clients. She makes her own home in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada.
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