We live in stressful times of social injustice, catastrophic climate change, and pandemic isolating us from the world. One would think the modern age will bring forth circumstances that are conducive to tolerance and understanding, but some issues prevail regardless of how advanced human existence has become. No one knows this better than members of the LGBTQ+ community, people who are especially affected by unemployment, prejudice, and exclusion. While changing the world is a noble and challenging effort, sometimes you need to take care of yourself and find a perfect escape from the stress.
Finding a perfect hobby may just be what you need to recharge the batteries and relax. Although usually, people decide to go dancing, take up painting, or practice yoga, there is another hobby that will make your life better — gardening. Present since ancient times, gardening has always been a vital part of human life. Firstly intended for food and then expanding its role, a garden is something you can have even in the smallest space, like a balcony. If you need something that can help you center yourself, here is why gardening is good for the soul.
Tending to plants keeps the stress at bay
Spending time in your garden and tending to plants is a peaceful activity that may help you manage stress. The sounds of leaves rustling in wind, the smell of greenery, and the warmth of the soil are both comforting and pleasant. Gardening is the ideal escape from the tech-infested world and being constantly bombarded with information.
If you need a space to clear your head, go to your garden even if you don’t have to do any chores. A study showed that by only looking at green space can help you recover from stress. Not to mention that less stress can mean lower blood pressure, reduced risk of certain diseases, and a clear head to solve problems.
Overcoming the urge for perfectionism
Being a perfectionist can sound attractive on your resume, but it may harm your mental health and well-being. Placing high standards before yourself can lead to extreme self-evaluation and disappointment if you can’t fulfill these expectations. Sometimes, you are the one setting the standards, and other times you are trying to satisfy someone else’s. Regardless of which, you are pressuring yourself mentally and it can have serious consequences, like anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.
If you want to get rid of this frustration and learn to accept failure, then gardening may be just the way. Even when you plan your whole garden and tend to it daily, you will most likely encounter unforeseen events, like bug infestation, or hail. Lack of perfectionism in the garden can teach you how to stop trying to have it in everyday life and feel great.
Gardening helps you connect with others
If you are shy or have trouble forming relationships, gardening offers opportunities to meet other people and be part of a community. It’s easier to connect to strangers if you have something in common, like gardening. Only other gardeners can understand what gardening means to you and how it makes you feel.
Moreover, you will find a sense of belonging and open up to others which can improve your social and communication skills. This is especially valuable for introverts who want to learn how to include themselves more in social interactions. Stop by a community garden or join a gardening club, not only to exchange experiences and get advice on planting but also to meet like-minded people. Sharing interests with other people can make you feel included in the world and boost your confidence.
A way to absorb the sunshine
If you don’t spend a lot of time outside, then gardening is a nice way to soak in some sunshine. When exposed to sunlight, the skin produces vitamin D, a crucial ingredient for healthy bones and strong immunity. After all, the better your health, the better you will feel mentally and lead a more fulfilled life.
Besides being a great source for vitamin D, sunshine also has a positive effect on the mood. Spending time in the sun can make you feel happy, satisfied, and elevate your spirit. This happens because sunlight is thought to boost the release of serotonin, a hormone regulating the feelings of wellbeing and happiness.
Growing plants is practicing acceptance
Humans have a natural need to control the things that they can’t. This is the source of frustration, unhappiness, and dissatisfaction. However, learning to accept that some things are not controllable and life can be unpredictable is the key to finding peace of mind. Growing a garden is the best reminder of this, making it an excellent platform to practice acceptance.
Even the easiest vegetables, like lettuce and tomatoes, may fail to produce crops. And that’s okay because you can’t predict the exact outcome, but only bring your best efforts to prepare the environment for your plants. After all, some aspects of gardening depend on nature alone, just as some things in life may rely on more than you to show results.
It’s a way to improve your memory
Being a gardener may just be what your brain needs to stay sharp. Besides being a fine source of physical activity and stress relief, gardening is also a wonderful stimulation for the brain. While people with a predisposition of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease may benefit the most, it is good for everyone’s brain health.
Gardening requires numerous brain functions, keeping your mind on alert and active. This can help with problem-solving, build awareness, and improve the learning process. As a brain-boosting activity, gardening is suitable for every gender and age, but especially beneficial for the elderly and young.
Gardening as an antidepressant
It may sound silly, but working with the soil in your garden may have anti-depressive properties. This is because soil microbes can serve as a natural antidepressant without chemical dependency. More notably, Mycobacterium vaccae is a bacterium found in soil that affects neurons like known depression medication. It stimulates serotonin production in the body, a chemical that is connected to anxiety and depression.
Basically, playing in the dirt can elevate your mood and make you feel happier. You get exposed to this friendly bacterium by simply inhaling it while working in your garden. Horticulture therapy is often recommended for people suffering from depression, OCD, and anxiety for this very reason. So, your plants blooming and bearing fruits are not the only things that may act as mood lifters.
An excellent source of physical activity
The physical benefits of gardening are often neglected and not sufficiently pointed out. The fact is that gardening can have you burning 200–400 calories per hour. While you tend to your plants, you actually perform a series of movements and use a significant amount of strength. Weeding, digging, and planting all require the use of your whole body, predominantly the arms.
But this gardening exercise is not only good for your figure. During physical activity, the body releases feel-good hormones endorphins and lowers cortisol levels. So, put on your gardening gloves and cap to burn some calories while digging and weeding your plants. It’s good for the soul as well as the body.
It keeps you in the present
Mindfulness is a practice of staying present in the now. It means to stay focused on the things currently happening and not dwell on things that happened or may happen. Usually, this is achieved through meditation and yoga, for example, but gardening is also a way to keep yourself in the present.
When gardening, you have to concentrate on tending to plants, digging, planting crops, and weeding. This will keep your mind focused on the things you are doing at that moment and allow you to forget your worries for a while. While growing your plants, you will at the same time grow a healthy mind and teach yourself calmness.
Food gardening for a healthy diet
It’s a known fact that gardeners who grow vegetables and fruits will eat more of these healthy products. Veggies, fruits, and herbs are full of vitamins and minerals that can improve your health. Not to mention they bring wonderful tastes and scents into your life, nourishing both body and soul.
There is also a satisfaction in harvesting crops you cultivated from start to finish. After all, you cared for those plants since they were seedlings and now you get to harvest the fruits of your labor. This can be a perfect inspiration to improve your diet and change your eating habits for the better. Also, you can be proud of yourself for being able to provide healthy products for you and your loved ones.
Gardening helps you find a sense of purpose
Sometimes you get lost and lose the compass that shows you where to go. If you need help in finding your direction again, gardening can help you gain a sense of purpose. Cultivating plants is a process that lets you see the results of your efforts.
Since you will choose the plants and care for them, once they bring fruits, you will feel proud of yourself and achieve a sense of worth. More importantly, gardening will point out your identity as nurturer bringing you self-awareness and validation.
Finding an outlet for frustration is the only way to find serenity and clear your mind to move forward in life. Gardening is one of those activities that will feed your body and soul with positive energy that can help you concentrate on yourself and what you expect of life. Not to mention that it will take your mind off of troubles and help you achieve calmness. So, start planting your soul garden today and enjoy all the magnificent results it will bring your way.