Get digging to reduce stress and improve mental health
Gardening is FANTASTIC for your mental health!!
Well here are my TOP 5 reasons that gardening will reduce stress and improve your health.
We are not designed to be indoor creatures. Sunlight in fact is essential for us to absorb vitamin D, which we cannot make in our bodies. Countries in northern Europe even experience a spike in depression during the winter months when the days can be only a few hours long.
The feeling of warmth on your skin is like Nature's hug. So step outside and enjoy the sunshine (and don't forget to Slip, Slop, Slap!).
2. Fresh Air
Suck in that good stuff! Did you know that most of us do not use our lungs to their full capacity? Take in a good slow deep breath and feel your whole chest expand and then release the air slowly. Taking a deep breath firstly sends a signal to your brain to relax and slow down. This is because it activates your parasympathetic nervous system and sends more oxygen to the brain. Slow and steady.
Secondly, focusing on your breathing helps to centre you in the moment and pushes out the anxious and stressful thoughts. Remember to concentrate on your chest's expansion and if your mind wanders, that's ok, but come back to your chest movements.
Gardening is actually like strength training. Bending and lifting bags of soil. Digging. And all the incidental walking you will do. So make sure you are wearing your Fitbit and count those steps towards your 10,000.
This would have to be my favourite, and it's REAL. The sense of accomplishment you will feel when a seed sprouts, when a seedling flowers, when the first fruit forms, when you harvest and when you eat your crop is AMAZING! Don't believe me? Just jump on to Instagram and check out all the beginner gardeners tagging their "firsts". It is very rewarding and that sense of accomplishment will help reduce your stress and improve your mental health because it will increase your self worth. You CAN do this. (If it is your first time gardening, why don't you follow one of my step by step planting guides. I also have information on my website on how to start a vegetable garden from scratch).
Walking barefoot on grass actually has a term now. It's called "grounding" or "earthing". The theory is that we evolved barefoot and connected to the Earth. But now as we spend most of our lives in shoes and walking on man made surfaces, we are not "connecting" with the Earth. Why is this important? The Earth has a subtle electric charge and by not connecting your skin with the ground, we are interrupting the flow of this charge.
This isn't just fluff, and they have done research on grounding which can produce almost immediate results of improved sleep, lower stress and eased muscle tension.
Why? My theory is because it feels good. In addition you are taking a moment for yourself which shifts your mental state. Add in the sunlight, fresh air and exercise, then this makes a little wander in your backyard the perfect stress reducing activity.
Combine it with gardening and the sense of accomplishment, then my friend, you are on your way to a reduced stress and improved health!