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Nurture Your Mind with Gardening

Brittany Chester

Content Design Specialist

Brittany Chester

Content Design Specialist

Why Gardening Makes a Big Impact on Your Mental Wellbeing

Think about the grass beneath your toes, walking on the beach, smelling a beautiful flower, or feeling a light breeze across your cheek. Close your eyes and visualize an outdoor space that you once visited. Chances are, you’re feeling positive and calming emotions. Having a connection with the earth and nature has been linked in numerous studies to a positive or healing effect on mental health. One easy way to achieve these positive effects is through gardening. Gardening helps to reduce stress, get your body active (which has many additional benefits), and connect you with the present moment.

National Garden Week is observed the first week of June, so if you don’t have a garden started already, now is a great time. Remember, you don’t need a large backyard or lots of extra money to take up gardening. You can have a few pots on your porch, a few hanging baskets, or why not recycle an old milk jug or ice cream carton into a planter and plant a few flowers, herbs, or veggies. Check your local area to see if there are any educational events going on in your area if you want to learn the basics of gardening or add some new skills for more advanced growing techniques.

Nurture Your Mind with Gardening

Why is it that gardening can make us feel so good? Here are some mechanisms behind why it may have such a big impact on our mental wellbeing.

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Feel Happy

According to the CDC, gardening is an excellent way to increase your physical activity throughout the day. It is considered a moderate intensity activity and when we exercise, cortisol is lowered (the stress hormone) and serotonin and dopamine increases (feel-good hormones). Gardening is great for beginners to start incorporating more activity into their routine, as well as for advanced exercisers who are looking for additional stress-relieving activities.

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Be Present

Much anxiety or stress tends to stem from not letting go of something from the past or worrying about something that might happen in the future. Many stress relieving practices like yoga, tai chi, and Pilates instruct you to focus on your breath and the present moment. You can use gardening in that same manner. Being around nature is a good reminder to pause, breathe, and be more in tune with the present moment. Gardening can incorporate all of your senses (if planting something edible), so appreciate it and fully experience the fullness of nature.

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Vent Anger

Some people find it helpful to hit or scream into a pillow to reduce stress, anger, or aggression. Gardening can be used as a therapeutic tool to unleash that anger as well. Cutting hedges, yanking weeds, and digging in the dirt is a great way to blow off some steam. If you are feeling out of control or overwhelmed, gardening can also bring a sense of routine or control into your life and be an extremely satisfying experience.

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Respect and Nurture

Taking care of something makes you feel needed and can increase your self-esteem and self-worth. Caring for plants is a great way to learn respect for and be connected to other living things. Self-absorption can contribute to depression and nurturing something else can remind us that the world doesn’t revolve around just us. Compassion for plants can also affect the levels of compassion that people feel for others, which leads to better relationships.

Gardening can be a place for you to escape others and take some much needed time for yourself. Plants have no emotions and will bring no judgement and it can be a great way to reboot or reset your emotions and feel more energized and ready to take on anything that comes your way. If you are interested in a mental health boost and all of the other benefits of gardening, decide what you want to grow, where you’re going to do it, and get started!

Source: Rayner, S. (2015, May 13). Pedal power: Why is gardening so good for our mental health? Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/worry-and-panic/201505/petal-power-why-is-gardening-so-good-our-mental-health

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