Feeling depressed, anxious or lethargic? Do you crave more inner peace, energy and joie de vivre?
The answer is simple – grow a garden. Because gardening makes you happy.
“She who plants a garden plants happiness.”
It’s a nice quote but scientists are discovering this to be literally true. Gardeners have known this since the beginning of time but now it is scientifically proven.
This is why:
- Hit of Serotonin: Microbes in the soil trigger our brains and guts to release serotonin – the king of happy chemicals. When we contact the soil we get a dose of natural antidepressants.
- Better than Candy Crush: The act of harvesting fruits, vegetables, berries etc..has been shown to cause a release of dopamine…another powerful happy chemical in the reward center of the brain which triggers a feeling of bliss or mild euphoria. This same chemical is released whenever you play (and win) at computer games or get ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ on your social media posts. Ooh what a thrill!
- Ekhart Tolle would be proud: Gardening encourages your presence in the here and now – so your annoying mental chatter shuts up while you are focussed on transplanting those delicate seedlings. This means you are more chilled out and zen-like.
- Gym Garden Junkie: The physical activity of gardening – bending, walking, lifting, digging keeps you fit, strong and sexy. Nice!
- A feeling of accomplishment. You are making something beautiful, useful and worthwhile. You are helping the environment while growing nourishing food for yourself and others. What could be better than that?
‘Gardening is cheaper than therapy. And you get tomatoes.’
So now you know that spending time in nature and/or gardening is non-negotiable for your mental health.
And heaven knows the world needs more happy people!
So rightio…..outside you go……I don’t care what the weather is like…..just dress accordingly.
Here are some ideas to get you started in order of difficulty. Choose your own adventure!
- Sit under a tree with your bare feet on the ground for 2 minutes.
- Have a cup of tea in a garden or park.
- Take your camera and take pics of trees, leaves, flowers or insects that fascinate you.
- Fill a watering can and water a plant. (indoor plants count)
- Make a list of things you need for your chosen garden task and buy or borrow them today.
- Start a balcony garden. Get a pot, a bag of potting mix and some seeds or seedlings – fill the pot with potting mix, plant the seeds and water daily.
- Choose a small section of your garden to weed thoroughly.
- Completely clear a one meter square section of garden bed. Turn over the soil with a garden trowel. Water it. Now plant some seedlings or seeds. Water again daily.
- Make compost.
- Make a herbal tea garden and plant chamomile, lemon balm, peppermint, lavender, sage.
- Make a culinary herb garden and plant sage, oregano, coriander, basil, mint, thyme, rosemary.
- Grow strawberries in pots.
- Plant a cottage garden.
- Mulch everything.
- Grow different kinds of roses.
- Design a vegetable garden.
- Plant a vegetable garden.
- Grow a mixed berry patch.
Don’t be. Just start with one thing from the list. Preferably from near the top.
Don’t try to do them all. At least not yet.
Start small. Keep at it.
Now go out, get your hands dirty every day and get happy!