Gardening: The Ultimate Stress-Relieving Activity for Better Health
Spring is here in the great state of Michigan, and I could not be happier. Why? Because it is the official time to go outside and play in the dirt! Whether it’s flowers, bushes, vegetables, or all the above, grounding yourself in nature brings fantastic benefits. Here are a few reasons why gardening can change your life for the better.
Connect with Nature
In our technology-based culture, we spend an enormous amount of time indoors. Connection to our screens far outweighs contact with our environment. On average, anxiety and depression rates are also on the rise. Is there a correlation? I am not a scientist or a medical professional, but from personal experience connecting with nature is hugely beneficial for mental and physical health. Our bodies need to connect to the earth. Taking as little as fifteen minutes to feel the sun, hear the birds, and touch the dirt will settle your nervous system. The benefits from the Vitamin D the sun produces alone is a reason to go outside. A little time in the garden will improve the skeletal, cardiovascular, neurological, and immune systems, all from the sun and its Vitamin D producing superpower. It is time to get out of the house, away from the screen, and see what’s happening on the green earth.
Watching the Process
I love projects. Gardening gives me a project that allows me to bond with nature and watch the process from beginning to end. From start to finish, every stage gives a new picture. Go outside to a plot of land full of weeds. A few hours later and a little hard work in the warm sun and cool breeze, the dirt is clean and clear and ready for the next stage. Then you place a seed or a small plant in the ground. The next days spin with anxious anticipation as you water and wait. Weeks pass, things grow, buds form, and flowers bloom. What was once barren is now beautiful. Nature is truly unique!
Super Good Food
About fifteen years ago, I began planting vegetables. I love all things green, but growing vegetables is the ultimate experience in attachment for me. Nurturing plants so that they produce food and then feeding it to my family is fulfilling on a new level. I will also say it tastes so much better than anything you purchase in the average grocery store. Do an experiment. Grow a tomato. Buy a tomato. Eat them side by side. I guarantee you will taste the difference. My happy hobby farm is now quite large, but it sprouts from a two-by-three-foot section in the backyard and a few pots on the patio. Large or small, the benefits are the same.
Time to Think
Gardening produces many of my finest ideas. Why? Time to think alone. Contemplating life while I pull weeds reduces my stress level tenfold. Ideas that are lost in the workday’s hustle flow free while watering the flowers. As I link with my environment, problems resolve, and plans are made. The fog of overwhelm lifts, and I ground myself in the present while digging in the soil. Playing in the dirt is my therapy. I wish our growing season could be longer!
Try It for Yourself
The challenge of the day – go outside and plant something. In a pot or the ground, a flower, or a tomato plant, it does not matter. Take a moment to help something grow and be present in your natural environment. Use your senses and become one with the world around you. See if a little while outside changes your perspective and reduces your stress. Accept my dare and experience all the benefits of playing in the dirt.