I know that if I get out and walk and soak up the natural world I will feel better, especially in the early morning when human world is quieter. But often it’s hard to do.
I’ll go to bed with the intention of a 6 am walk up to the moor, and then when the morning comes, I’ll switch on my laptop and start going through work emails. By 9 am I’m already in a nervous state and snapping at anyone near me.
Or in the evening, instead of getting out for a stroll around the village and paths into the woods and fields that surround us, I’ll spend hours flicking through social media and the news on my ‘phone. This will leave me disgruntled, agitated and not able to sleep well, kicking off a cycle of negative mood.
I’m fortunate in that I live in a beautiful little village surrounded by countryside; but being close to an abundance of nature doesn’t provide a panacea for curing depression. Many people living in rural areas suffer from terrible mental illness.
One of the tricks I use to get myself out and to break the cycle is what I call ‘finding the words’. I use snippets from poetry to help me look for things that I know will have an instant effect on my well-being. Here are a few examples from the poet Gerald Manley Hopkins.
There is often a kestrel hovering over one of the valleys where I like to sit on the moor. So, I go there with the poem ‘Windhover’ in mind to see if I can catch the “dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon … rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing”.
Or I go looking for ‘dappled things’ such as Hopkins calls them in his poem ‘Pied Beauty’. One of my favourites is the dappled light cast by leaf shadows on the bole of a lichen clad Ash tree that is near the end of an hour’s walk from the moor back down through the woods.
In the winter, when the weather is clear, I walk up to the moor on a lane that faces east so that I can see the sun rise and ‘flame out, like shining from shook foil’ as Hopkins says in his poem ‘Gods Grandeur’. That moment of renewal as the sun emerges takes my breath away.
It doesn’t always work. But when it does give me a motivation to make it happen some of the time. There is a pair of kestrels hawking over the high fields at the moment. When I see them, I think of Gerald Manley Hopkin’s poem.
I’ve missed the Thursday evening yoga class in the village twice now. I’ve put it in my diary, and even set my ‘phone alarm to remind me. I know I’ll feel better after the class, but when it comes to the time I can’t do it.
So now I need an uplifting poem to get me out of the house for the yoga class.
Do you have ways of finding the words to help you shift moods?
Rowan on the moor
A Moodscope member.