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I have fond memories of sitting in the garden with my parents after digging out weeds, old plants, planting new ones and just being up to my elbows in soil. It was only once I moved out that I realized just how much I missed doing that with them and saw it is as so much more than something that just needed to be done. Lying on the grass surrounded by the progress of the day felt so good. It was only recently that I learned just why gardening makes me feel so good. Studies show that spending time outside is good for us. Have you ever found yourself stepping outside for a breather when things are just too much or too boring indoors? This is the body’s natural response to boost serotonin and release endorphins.
Your body needs serotonin to keep you in a good headspace. Here are the mental health benefits of keeping your own garden.
1. Reduces Stress
This is probably the obvious and most common mental health benefit of spending time outdoors. Gardening is a great way to release stress. Being in touch with the life around you can help recentre you and produce the hormones and chemicals your body needs to keep you happy and healthy. You shouldn’t feel pressured to constantly keep your garden looking a certain way. You should find time to just sit in your garden and enjoy the sounds, smells, and colors. This teaches you to remove yourself from a situation and simply be present at the moment.
2. Practicing Acceptance
When we try to control things that we can’t it causes us a great deal of distress. Gardening is unpredictable and is very good at helping one accept that it is ok that we can’t control everything. Once you learn to accept this in gardening you are able to apply it to more and more things in your life. Your garden will not be like anyone else’s in the same way your life will be different. Try your best to not be a control freak and accept that accepting things as they are is not the same as giving up on something. You can prepare the best environment for your plants, but from there nature will do the rest.
3. Surpassing Perfectionism
If you have OCD tendencies and find you are a bit of a perfectionist, you are aware of how frustrating things can be. Gardening is a great sort of therapy to make things a little easier for you. It is already unpredictable, and nothing is for certain. Regardless of how carefully you plan your garden, you are not guaranteed to end up with it the way you planned. You might be wondering, “Well, then why bother?” If it seems too daunting there is a lot of advice online and even beginner how-to guides according to UrbanOrganicYield.com. The overarching lack of control in gardening can be extremely overwhelming but is an excellent example of how pursuing perfection is a waste of time and effort.
It is a lesson in learning that curveballs such as bugs, bad weather and weather damage, even mildew, and all part of the experience and aren’t the end of the world, just like hardships in life.
4. Switch from Fixed to Growth Mindset
It is not possible to garden perfectly as a garden will always be filled with imperfections. A “fixed mindset” is one that leads you to believe that you are the way you are and that you can never change anything about yourself. Gardening helps you deviate from this and introduces you to the concept of “growth mindset”. A growth mindset allows us to accept that we are constantly learning new things and new ways of being and that change is even when it’s unexpected is ok. Rather than look at unexpected or undesirable outcomes as a failure, it encourages you to accept them as a learning opportunity. You learn that doing the best you can do is often good enough.
5. It Can Connect You with Others
Acceptance by others and a sense of belonging are two of the most yearned after things. Having something to bond over makes you feel like you are part of a community and that you fit in somewhere. You could join social media pages with like-minded people, or join a communal vegetable or flower garden.
6. Being Present
This is one of the most important things on this list. When we are in a bad headspace our mind flies every but to the task at hand. Your garden is your space where you can practice being present in the moment and doing what you’re doing.
Gardening is filled with all sorts of treats for your mental health. It is really important that you find the time to go outside and center yourself when you are feeling anxious and that you allow yourself to learn these important lessons from gardening.