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Mental Health Awareness Month: A Perfect Time to Cultivate a Flourishing Garden


The following is an observance of Mental Health Awareness Month by Victoria Oliver, MA, LPC. Victoria is a licensed professional counselor, and Senior Director of Enterprise Design and Improvement at Redeemer Health.

Horticulture is the art of garden cultivation and management. What a lovely and important definition. During spring, specifically Mental Health Awareness Month in May, it is fitting to reflect on how we cultivate and manage our own lives as we are preparing to cultivate our gardens.

Here are the factors to help create and maintain a flourishing garden and how these principles can apply to each of us:

Location – Location and position of a garden is one of the most critical elements of success. You need to think about whether it gets enough (or too much) water and nutrients. It needs to have exposure to sunlight and optimal conditions. It needs to have space.

What about you? Sometimes repositioning ourselves is necessary and vital to growth. Are you in the position where you get what you need to grow and flourish? Do you need a new environment or space so that you can flourish? Are you getting enough of what you need or too much of what you don’t?

Planning – Soil is often lacking in nutrients and other things it needs to support a thriving garden. Doing a litmus test of your soil can help you determine if you need to add or remove things. My family has an organic garden and we truck in mushroom soil annually and add compost. We plan our garden out each year and rotate plots. Crop rotation allows us to preserve nutrients in the soil and is said to boost nutrients for the following year. We put time, thought, and care into our garden.

Are you stuck in patterns and consistent behaviors that do not serve you and allow you to reach your full potential? Do you give your body proper nutrients? Do you ever take a personal litmus test to determine what you need to add or remove from your life? 

Weeds – Sometimes in order for your garden to blossom, you need to do some weeding. This may seem daunting, I know. But once you start the process (and it is a process because weeds continue to grow), you will feel a sense of relief. You will see things more clearly and give your plants space to grow.

When you weed your garden, it can claim the water, soil, and sunlight that is meant for it to receive. You can also do the same in your life. Perhaps the weeds in your life are toxic people, behaviors, or commitments you don’t really want or need. You have permission (and are encouraged to) pull them out. You can claim and embrace the nourishment you will experience by doing the work you may have been avoiding.

A garden takes love and patience. What better way to grow a garden then to plant the things you love to eat? It is such a magical and beautiful thing to place a small, fragile seed in the soil…to water it…to nourish it...to see that tiny little sprout emerge from the earth and then watch it grow. What practices or routines do you have in your life that nourish you and help you grow? Do you give yourself time, care, and love? Are you patient with yourself? Do you give yourself credit for small steps, improvement, and growth?

Spring is about renewal and rebirth. Spring is also about planning and growth. I hope you give yourself the time and space to think about how you can cultivate your best life during Mental Health Awareness Month.

If you, a family member, or a loved one experience mental health challenges or crisis, contact Redeemer Health today to get the care you need. Call 215-914-4190 to schedule an appointment for behavioral health services. Visit redeemerhealth.org/behavioralhealth for more information.

Also, Redeemer Health’s Life Story Coaching helps clients see past their problems to their possibilities, by understanding the stories they tell themselves today can be changed to allow them to live new, more powerful, and transformational ones. Call the Redeemer Health Call Center at 800-818-4747 to connect with a coach. Visit https://www.redeemerhealth.org/services/health-care/life-story-coaching for more information.