Pulling Weeds: The Self-Care We Really Need

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Did anyone else grow up having to pull weeds on Saturday mornings?

I vividly remember being a kid and my dad dragging me out of bed way too early on the weekends to pull weeds and do yard work. I hated it. I wanted to be sleeping. I did not see the point in weed pulling. Consequently, those horrible yard work days had a way of bringing out the worst attitudes I could muster–and probably some punishments to boot.

Yet, here I am, about to make a confession that I will deny if my father ever hears: As an adult, I love pulling weeds.

I love it.

There are so many wonderful things about pulling weeds. So many life lessons to be learned. So much joy to be had.

And do you know what category I think pulling weeds actually falls into? Self-care.

That’s right. I said it. 

Pulling weeds is self-care. The kind of self-care that we need on a regular basis. Here’s why:

Pulling weeds forces us to slow down. Our world spins so quickly every day. From the massive to-do list in our heads to the long list of needs that need to be met in our home. There is always something to be done, someone to take care of, and something else that gets our time and attention. So when we squat down on our knees (preferably on a padded knee board) and start pulling those weeds out of the flower beds, everything kind of slows down. Our attention is turned to the thing right in front of our eyes and for a few minutes our brains can relax and just be.

Pulling weeds is therapeutic. Now, I’m not recommending that you quit real therapy and turn solely to yard work to solve all of your problems. I AM, however, suggesting that allowing this process of weed-pulling to be a time of reflection can be very helpful to your soul. With everything around you fighting for your attention, it is really easy to just ignore the hard things, avoid the challenging issues, and shove everything down as deep as possible. But when we allow ourselves to slow down and, say, pull weeds, we can actually get down to the root (no pun intended) of many of the challenges we are facing. 

Pulling weeds builds character. Don’t mock my corny dad phrase. It’s true. Pulling weeds is not an easy task. It’s not something that can be done quickly. If there’s one weed to pull, there’s 100. And if you don’t do it right, your work is pointless. When I was a kid I just wanted pull the part above the ground so that it looked like I did the job and could be done. But everyone knows that to really get rid of weeds, you have to pull the root out too, making the job more tedious and time consuming. And herein lies the lesson: putting in the work, doing it the right way, and persevering when we’re hot and tired and dirty builds something inside of us that doesn’t just help us in the garden; it builds character inside of us that stays with us in the every day life we are living. 

Pulling weeds brings life into perspective. It’s really easy to look at a hard situation and think, “There’s no way this can be figured out.” And sometimes maybe that’s actually true. But at the risk of sounding like a major hippie plant lady (which might be one of my aspirations in life), when you are outside in nature with your hands in the dirt, breathing in fresh air, and in control of the task at hand, the struggles and the fears of the unknown seem to become smaller in light of the creation around you.

Getting sweaty and dirty may not be your idea of self-care. You may even pay someone to get rid of those weeds in your yard so that you don’t ever have to touch them. But I think you should give it a try. Spend 30 minutes and pull some weeds.

Who knows, you may end up liking it too. 

 

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