Q. All my life, I have had a yearning to live in the countryside, close to nature, but have always lived in towns and, for many years, in London. There are things I like about it, but that yearning is growing stronger, and I am almost starting to feel that I am wasting my life.
But my family’s lives are bedded in the city; I don’t want to move my teenage children, and both my husband and I work there. We talk about moving when the children are older but that is years away and, the way things are, they will probably need our home for many years to come. I feel as though I live for the couple of annual holidays I take in beautiful places. How can I come to terms with how I feel? Name supplied
A general sense of wasting your life, or living for holidays, is a warning that something definitely needs to change. However, I’m not wholly convinced about your solution. The evidence is that human connection tends to be the most important factor in making us happy.
I will now argue against myself slightly, and say that being close to nature is also a human need. Public Health England commissioned a report in 2014, which said that the benefits of access to green space include better self-rated health, lower body mass index, improved mental health and increased longevity. For me, the way through this is to get outdoors as much as possible, whatever the weather.
There’s a saying in Germany: ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.’ Can you join an outdoor exercise class, volunteer with a local canal society, or organise your own group of friends to walk the London Loop? The London Outer Orbital Path is a 240km signed walk through parks, woods and fields, described as ‘the M25 for walkers’, and divided into easy stages, accessible by public transport. Walking and talking will also generate new ideas. Let us know how you get on.
Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email email@example.com, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line.