The theme for Garden Media Group’s Garden Trends Report for 2018 is “Nature’s RX for Mental Wellness.” The reason for this, as mentioned in their report, is that “in today’s 24/7 connected society and public discontent, depression and anxiety are skyrocketing world-wide.” The recommended remedy? More time spent relaxing and working in nature. In this blog post, we’ll show you a few ways to get in touch with your inner gardener with gardening tips both big and small: all of which are proven to help de-stress and boost the spirits.
The Link Between Gardening and Mental Health
Over the years, there have been numerous studies linking gardening with better mental health. Gardening has been known to strengthen the immune system with the absorption of vitamin D from the sun. It has also been proven to help lower blood pressure, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and increase feel-good brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.
In fact, gardening as therapy has long been used for the elderly, people with disabilities and substance abuse issues, and sufferers of depression and anxiety. So, without further ado, let’s look at some ways to start enjoying this mood-boosting plant therapy.
Tip #1: Work in the Soil
Soil microbes have been shown to have antidepressant effects: stimulating serotonin production and possibly even improving cognitive function. So get your hands in the soil! You will receive the benefits of these feel-good microbes by working the soil with your bare hands and breathing it in as you garden.
Why not mix the benefits of working in soil with the chemical-free fruitage of organic gardening by adding organic soil amendments to your soil? Coconut coir and GrowBrownies (made from coconut coir and tree bark) provides a healthy pH range for soil, improves drainage, and encourages healthy, happy plant production—plus, you get that little extra, mood-boosting time in the soil.
Tip #2: Start Small
Ready to start some serious growing? If you want to start gardening projects to improve your mental health, but don’t consider yourself a gardener, we suggest starting small. Perhaps an indoor garden project, like a seed kit (something you can put on a kitchen counter or windowsill) is your pace. Not only are they easy to care for and flourish in almost any environment, but you can use the things you grow—herbs, lettuce, mushrooms, tomatoes, and strawberries!
A window box is another small, but satisfying, gardening project. Pick window boxes that complement your home’s exterior, and enjoy the process of picking plants that will flourish in your climate and with your sun exposure. If you’re just getting the hang of this gardening thing and don’t want to get overwhelmed, follow these window box hacks to keep it simple.
Tip #3: Plant an Edible Garden
Spending time in the soil and sun + eating freshly grown vegetables you grew yourself = a recipe for positivity. Not only does the act of caring for something (edible plants) encourage the positive feelings of nurturing, hope, and eventually accomplishment, but the sensory stimulation of vibrant-colored plants and vegetables, smelling their fresh fragrance, and working with their textured foliage is known to stimulate happiness and improve memory skills.
Where to start? How about a raised bed garden? Not only will it provide a lovely framework from which to grow to your hearts content (especially if planting in the ground is not an option due to space constraints and poor soil), but they will provide a healthy and controlled growing environment for your plants and vegetables. Don’t have the space for a raised bed? Try a smaller, elevated planter. Our 48″ Elevated Trug Garden Planter, with its durable cedar construct and Old-World style, is a popular choice.
Tip #4: Get Involved with Your Community
Community gardening, where one garden space is cultivated by a group of people in the community, is not a new practice, but it is definitely on the rise in recent years. And with this increase has come an increase in awareness of its mental health benefits: namely, it connects a person to their community and allows them to work in a natural environment on a common goal—all of which are depression-fighting, anxiety-relieving actions.
In fact, a study conducted by the Journal of Public Health found that people who spent just 30 minutes a week working in a community garden had fewer weight problems and lower levels of fatigue, depression, and anger. And another report in the Journal of Environment and Behavior found that neighborhoods with community green spaces had significantly lower levels of crime than those without.