Blueberry Therapy

No, this isn’t just another article touting blueberries as a superfood. Of course, they are a superfood but their benefit to me goes well beyond the nutritional value.  I call this benefit “blueberry therapy”.

It all started years ago when my husband decided to plant blueberry bushes. I thought, “I like blueberries. Sounds like a good idea.” Little did I know the value these assorted varieties of blueberry bushes would bring beyond the obvious cereal topping, fruit salad, muffins, and pancakes. It has increased my quality of life.

Here’s how. At the end of a busy day with client calls, I’m ready for some quiet, reflection time but–I also love getting things done. What better summer ritual than walking out to the blueberry bushes searching for and picking the large blue sweet ripe ones. For me, the act is almost meditative. I liken it to what positive psychologist, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, defined as “flow” -a state of mind in which a person becomes fully immersed in an activity. The rest of the world sort of melts away. Its restorative and therapeutic effect helps me transition to a more relaxed state. And, as a bonus, I end up with a full cup of delicious blueberries to enjoy or share with others.

Another blueberry therapy ritual is time with my husband. When the sun is low enough for the blueberry bushes to be in the shade, we both grab our cups and head out. It’s our time to connect while we talk about our day. This time is precious given the juggle of work, travel, and family responsibilities. It’s our form of relaxing therapy that allows us to slow down and reconnect.

The third benefit isn’t therapy in the same way, but it does yield dividends.  As I hunt for the best blueberries, I love how this ritual reminds me of lessons of leadership.

  • Patience. It’s important not to hurry to select the berries that are still pink.  Like any project, difficult conversation, or complex dilemma, patience is required.  Sometimes it’s all about delaying instant action or gratification for long-term benefit.
  • Change your angle or perspective. Often, I think I have picked every ripe blueberry within sight until I bend down to look upward into the bush, and there, staring me in the face is a large clump of beautiful berries waiting to be picked. It’s a reminder that we are limited by the position we hold, the function we know, the expertise we have, and the beliefs we cherish. Only until we change perspectives, look at things from others’ points of view, or are willing to be challenged, can we truly lead (or find all the blueberries waiting for us).
  • The value of diversity. This comes in two forms. First, I am 5’2” and my husband is 6”5”.  Together we have optimal coverage! Diversity is also in the number of blueberry varieties my husband planted. Each type of bush serves a different purpose. The early, large ones are for eating right off the bush, the smaller ones for muffins, and the last to ripen go in the freezer for our winter smoothies. They all serve a purpose. They all add value in different ways. The same is true for people in our organizations. Helping maximize the purpose and complementary aspect of each individual’s strengths is the goal.
  • Fun. Sharing our blueberry goodness provides a return as well. There is nothing more enjoyable than inviting our friends to come join in the harvest. It is especially fun to introduce the neighborhood kids to the art of picking—and eating.  Also, bringing fresh, organic blueberries to a family picnic is always a hit.

Perhaps as you’re looking for a way to restore after a stressful and strange year, you might consider blueberry therapy. You can get starter bushes for your growing region through the mail. They are easy to maintain and relatively inexpensive. In fact, it’s the cheapest therapy I know.  Give it a try. Dr. Blueberry will see you now.

  Photo by Alex Ushakoff via Unsplash

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