Article: Speak Easy

How Mowing  The Lawn Can  Reduce Depression  with Michael BoturHow Mowing The Lawn Can Reduce Depression with Michael Botur

The Mental Health Foundation of NZ recognises that Seasonal Affective Disorder is not just some urban legend. While SAD can be symptomatic of more chronic depression – for which you should ring 0800 111 757 ASAP - there is plenty we can do to alleviate SAD.

The reason SAD is being discussed here in PropertyPlus is because working on property upkeep over winter – even by just mowing the lawn during a sunshower – means your mental health can be protected and even boosted in several ways. Here’s how…

Talking to your helpers
What better excuse to spend time with a friend than working on each other’s homes? Looking around my place, two-person jobs I look forward to inviting my son/wife/cat/guinea/human friend to help me with include a full day loading up green waste to go to the dump; painting a section of fence; and turning over crappy soil to plant new crops. Doing such jobs gets a person their dose of vitamin D, gives an opportunity to feel empowered and proud, and creates bonding and sharing between people. It’s about being able to go to work on a Monday, and when people ask what you did with your weekend, you can genuinely tell them “I made my home better.”

Exercise
Being active is one of five essential components the Mental Health Foundation has identified as essential to improving your psychological wellbeing. Here is how to get exercise while making your home better:

• Pulling weeds or planting something new helps work up a sweat.

• Exercise, even just shunting a wheelbarrow, makes you feel good because of the
  endorphins released by stretching your muscles

• The concept of ‘having a go’ and gaining excitement through new challenges definitely applies to home improvement. Take yourself to one of those Bunnings Warehouse or Mitre 10 Mega Saturday morning seminars where they teach you skills about repair, building and maintenance. Buy that cordless drill you know will enable you to screw down fresh bolts to stop the toilet rocking and making you feel ashamed about your old bathroom. Paint your bathroom an uplifting colour while listening to Jimi Hendrix. Even simple interaction with shop staff when you’re out buying supplies is an opportunity to articulate how you’re feeling and get into conversations with people. 

Sunlight on Skin
Increased exposure to sunlight can improve symptoms of SAD. The Mental Health Foundation has ratified this. Where to get your sunlight in? Gardening, painting the mailbox, fixing the roof gutters… even just a walk to the shops to buy duct tape will help.

So, whether it’s putting fresh gravel/asphalt/concrete on your driveway’s potholes, filling the cracks around a window that’s leaking cold air in, or getting into the attic and making sure your insulation batts are in the right place, home maintenance can result in being active and helping to keep SAD and depression away. Yes, it’s rainy and windy and cold outside, but don’t wallow. Give it a go and tell a colleague, friend or whanau what you’ve achieved. Making your home better is something to be proud of, and feeling proud improves your health from head to toe.

Michael Botur has published journalism in NZ Herald, Herald on Sunday, Sunday Star-Times and Mana and he writes a lot of fiction. He moved to Whangarei in 2015 and was ecstatic to be able to afford a house here.


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