Most of us are familiar with ways that exercise can prevent depression, but I’d also like to share with you some ways gardening helps with depression. I’ll never forget I met one of my neighbors at the edge of her yard last year while I was taking a walk. She walked up to me and we started chatting. I commented on how nice her yard looked, and she told me it was her emotional “therapy” for depression. I joked that if I didn’t walk, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself and it was my personal form of therapy to beat depression. Since talking to her, I’ve noticed almost everyone who gardens tells me the same thing. I even notice my mom is happier when she has time to garden out in our yard, and personally, I even feel happier when being around plants and nature as well. There are many ways gardening helps with depression that you could be taking advantage of, even if you have no experience.
One of the most effective ways gardening helps with depression is movement. Staying inside and sitting for too long is one of the worst things to do for depression. Moving around is a natural way to boost endorphins in the body and prevent a low mood. We aren’t made to sit, so get out in your yard and try gardening a little. The bending, walking, stooping and scooping can do wonders for your mood, and your weight!
Being out in fresh air is a natural way to beat depression, and one of the most highly effective methods. Being outside with living plants, trees, and the soil gives us a rooted feeling, and can make us feel more alive. It naturally boosts your mood in ways you might not even realize. Plus, it’s hard to be in a bad mood when you’re marveling at all the bright colors nature has to offer.
3. Vitamin D
Being outside also exposes you to Vitamin D from the sun, your body’s preferred source. Vitamin D is essential to combating depression and it helps your body manufacture serotonin more efficiently. Serotonin is your body’s “happy hormone” and without enough, you’ll become depressed easily. Instead of turning to sugar to get a boost of serotonin, which your body will naturally want to do, just go outside! Piddle around in your yard, pull a few weeds, plant a few shrubs, and get your hands in the dirt! Being out in the sunlight just 15 minutes a day has been proven to beat depression, as well as combat fatigue.
We all feel better when we’ve accomplished something that we can look at daily. Gardening does that for you. It can give you a sense of pride, even if you have little experience. You don’t even have to be an expert at gardening to reap the benefits either. Start where you can. Read a few beginner tips online, and make this the year you get out in your yard and give it a try. Having a sense of accomplishment is also a great way to take pride in yourself and your habitat.
Let’s be honest - we all get a mood boost by looking at pretty things. Planting attractive flowers, trees, or just pruning your yard can really make it feel more beautiful, and that makes you feel happier. Any time we’re exposed to simple, natural sources of beauty like nature, our mood gets a little boost.
6. Food Appreciation
If you’re specializing in planting certain seeds to produce food like squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc., this can also help treat depression in a few ways. First, it gives you a sense of pride about providing for yourself. It also makes you appreciate your food more since you are growing it. Subconsciously, all of these things combined can help boost your mood and inspire a happier outlook. Gardening is a great way to not only save money on food, but also heighten your appreciation for it.
7. Self-taught Skills
Have you ever taught yourself something and been so proud? This is one reason gardening can help prevent depression as well. Anytime we teach ourselves something, no matter how much we fail at first, it gives us a huge boost of self esteem, which naturally fights depression. When you teach yourself to garden, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to learn something new. I don’t know about you, but anytime I learn something new myself, I always get a little mood boost, what about you?
Gardening can come with so many benefits. Sure, you might get dirty or sweaty, but that’s okay! It’s especially great if you’re not into working out each day in a gym, and it can be a natural form of exercise if you do it for a couple hours. Do you garden?