Mental Health Awareness Day 5 Gardening

My son’s zucchini plant

I am trying to really make a point in writing posts about how my passions are good for our mental health and wellbeing. I missed day 1 of mental health awareness month due to not realizing that May was Mental Health Awareness month. I missed day 3 because I forgot, but I combined some of my  thoughts about food and exercise so that day 3 thoughts got down on paper. I spent day 2 planning out my daily posts so that I have a brief, very basic outline to follow so that I can either at least know what to write about or maybe even get a head start on what I want to write.

Today’s post is about the great benefits of gardening for our mental wellness. There is actually a whole therapeutic modality that’s called horticulture therapy. I have thought about taking classes to become a horticulture therapist or maybe have more knowledge about horticulture therapy as a treatment modality. Today’s post will hopefully give me that as well as the knowledge that I will get from my other posts as I start to research what to write. 

One way that gardening and plants help is is by giving us a sense of responsibility. According to “Psychology Today”, caring for plants is a great way to care for something other than ourselves. It’s a way to nurture others and see them grow with our nurturing. Plants are also really forgiving. They don’t judge and seeing things grow no matter who we are can be a huge boost to our self confidence and that is a huge boost to our mental wellness.

Gardening keeps us connected to something other than ourselves. One thing about anxiety and depression is that people often isolate and become ultra focused on themselves. Gardening allows us to focus on and care for something more than ourselves, especially when caring for ourselves is difficult. 

There is something about caring for plants that makes us feel relaxed and calm. Taking time to weed and water and prune helps to keep us present. There are so many ways to be present in a garden. Using our senses keeps us present and in the garden there are so many ways to use our senses. THere are so many sights to pay attention to, so many things to hear, so many things to smell and feel, and if in the right garden, even things to taste. Being present makes it so we don’t look back or worry about the future. Gardening is also a physical activity that helps release serotonin and dopamine levels. These happy hormones help to relax us. The hormone cortisol, which is a stress hormone, is lowered. Gardening, a physical exercise, also is a positive way to get rid of excess energy.

As with caring for plants and seeing them grow, we also see that things don’t live forever. Plants die, seasons end and we work with that. There is also the metaphorical lesson of death and rebirth when we look at perennial flowers and plants. The other thing with gardening and growth is the learning curve. There are many things that I have learning through failing at gardening. I have learn what to do as well as what not to do. I have also learned that sometimes the best thing to do is relax and not feel like things need to be perfect all the time.

There are so many things to learn from gardening. Do you have a garden? Do you find it relaxing or stressful?



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