Millions of Americans suffer from depression, and while there are many different ways to keep it at bay, more and more people are discovering that the simple act of gardening can really make a difference.
“There’s no doubt that being outside in the fresh air, being in touch with nature, feeling the seasons and watching plants grow and flower can do your mental wellbeing wonders. Having good mental wellbeing (or mental health) is just as vital as physical health, reducing your risk of depression or anxiety. In fact, why not prescribe gardening for depression? Doctors prescribe gym referrals; why not allotment referrals? Not only can gardening boost mental health, a good stint of digging and wedding is also great exercise,” says Dr. Paul Zollinger-Read.
According to several studies, playing and working in the dirt--and specifically, a bacteria that grows in soil called Mycobacterium vaccae--can boost your mood and serotonin levels, which keep us happy. Serotonin is a natural anti-depressant and can help keep your immune system in good shape, so it might just be that gardening is good for you all the way around.
If you have a spot on your property, clear a little room and figure out what you want to grow. Specific breeds of flowers can help with depression, too, so do a little research and find the right seeds and roots. Read on to find out more about how gardening can help with depression.
It’s great exercise
People who suffer from depression usually have a very hard time getting up and moving. Depression is more than just a mood disorder; it affects us physically and mentally and can make even simple tasks like taking a shower seem monumental. However, daily exercise is extremely important, and gardening is a great way to get in a workout. Thirty minutes of working in the dirt per day can help boost your mood, keep you focused, and leave you feeling accomplished, which is great for your self-esteem.
It can help you get healthy
Depending on what you choose to grow, gardening can help you get healthy and stick with a healthier lifestyle. That’s because you can plant veggies and have a harvest when they’re ready, meaning you can eat organic and take pride in what you bring to your table because you used your own two hands to grow it. Eating a balanced diet is extremely important for individuals who live with depression, and when you start eating what you grow, it can help you start looking for healthy choices elsewhere, as well, such as switching to whole grains and cutting refined sugars from your diet.
It can help you sleep better
Working out in the sun and getting your hands dirty tires you out, which means you’ll sleep better at night. Many people who suffer from depression have a hard time with sleep and often, their sleep cycles trade places without warning. Spending time in the garden can help even things out.
It’ll make you happy
Working in the garden can boost your mood simply because you’ll be amongst the beauty of nature, working hard and seeing the fruits of your labor. Plant colorful flowers, and healthy veggies to get the full effect of an instant mood boost.Depression is a life-altering disorder, and there is never an easy fix. It’s imperative that you push to find relief, though, as depression can sometimes lead to addiction and other life-threatening conditions. Many people use therapy, counseling, and medication (or a combination of the three) several times a week and still battle the effects. However, if you enjoy working outdoors and are interested in finding a way to lift your mood that can provide you with a healthier lifestyle at the same time, consider starting a garden (If you’re new to gardening not to worry, here are some great tips to help you get started). Go ahead and test out your green thumb! It might just be the best thing you ever did.