Gardening for Mental Health: What You Need to Know

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a toll on people’s mental health. You do not require a hot take from a psychiatry expert to recognize that the lockdowns and other precautionary measures imposed by authorities have only increased your stress levels, fear, and anxiety. Despite the efficiency of these safety protocols, they do nothing to improve our suffering state of mind.

You are not alone. According to reports and studies cited in this article published on The Scientific American, depression and psychological distress saw increased prevalence last year, the pandemic’s peak, compared to previous years. Thankfully, there are ways to alleviate the effects of these symptoms. You may refer to recommendations laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, you can try gardening.

You only require the basics to pursue gardening. These include topsoil that’s compatible with the plants you wish to nurture, and some tools like a trowel, pruning shears, garden hose, rake, shovel, and a dependable pair of gloves. That’s it. Once you have these prepared, you’re ready to make your front or back yard look alive.

And once you’re finally gardening, you’ll begin to feel calmer and more focused. Here’s why.

1. It is a practice in acceptance

Most people like to be in control at all times. Once things do not go as planned, the result is increased levels of stress and anxiety. This is where practicing acceptance comes in. Gardening allows you to take things as they are, therefore it’s a practice in acceptance.

You are dealing with things that are alive, breathing the same way you do. Their growth is beyond your control. You learn to let your garden progress at its own pace.

2. It develops a growth mindset

A growth mindset zeroes in on the process of discovery and continuous learning. Having a growth mindset is beneficial to anxiety-prone individuals. That is because once we go easy on ourselves and let go of past blunders, we’ll have improved peace of mind. The key is to acknowledge that we’re here not to strive for perfection. Instead, we’re here to develop and grow, thanks in large part to the mistakes or learning opportunities we go through.

3. It gets you connected with Mother Nature

It’s the most visceral kind of connection. After all, we are one with everything that we see in nature. Unfortunately, our hectic schedules and our reliance upon modern technology have severed this connection. It’s high time we reclaim it via activities that get us close to Mother Nature.

Gardening is such an activity. There’s something very primal about tilling soil. And there’s a sense of cosmic calm derived from being near another living creature quite different from us but shares the most fundamental molecules of our body.

4. It allows you to be “present”

pots and flowers

The goal of yoga and meditation is to teach people to stay in the present, be in the here and now. Forget the past. Never mind the future. What matters is what’s in front of you, what you can touch, what you smell. Gardening achieves the same effects as yoga and meditation.

5. It gives you exercise

Physical activities are vital to the improvement of your mental health. When you sweat out, especially under the sun, your brain produces happy chemicals that automatically make you feel great. Gardening, although not as physically demanding as Crossfit training, for example, sufficiently gets your bones and muscles working.

When you garden, you get the same dopamine and endorphin surge gym-goers get. Do it every day and in no time things will feel lighter and brighter.

6. It provides a healthy food source

You can devote your garden to flowers, sure. If the sight of beauty perks you up, by all means, do you. Still, it won’t hurt to try growing your own food. You can plant tomatoes, eggplants, okras, and other produce that’s easy to grow and nurture.

After a few weeks or months, you’ll have a healthy food source within your property. Eating well is another crucial component when it comes to caring for your mental health.

Your mental health should never be neglected. If you exercise to keep your body in tiptop shape, you must also pursue activities that will keep your mental functions working fine. Otherwise, even your body will suffer. Remember that the body responds to one’s state of mind. So for general well-being to be achieved, mental health should always be considered a priority. Garden to your heart and soul’s content. That’s one effective way to keep the blues away.

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