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  • Lori Carol Maloy

How Gardening Reduces Stress, Anxiety and Depression, and Boosts Mood

Do you ever get the urge to dig in the dirt? If so, you may not be aware of the powerful health benefits of gardening. If not, maybe you have enjoyed the colors and scents of someone else's fresh smelling flowers or herbs. Or the landscapes design of a beautiful yard. In some sense, when you enjoy the aroma and beauty of plants, you’ve been hijacked by the sheer joy of what gardening can do for the soul. Why does gardening, or the results of gardening, do something magical inside of us? If digging in the dirt isn’t your thing, it just might be after reading this blog.

When I owned my bed and breakfast in Vermont, I loved growing fresh herbs and vegetables, not to mention growing flowers all around the house. It gave me great joy to serve herbs in and alongside breakfast. I’d proudly place the peonies in a cool bath of water in a pretty vase in the middle of the breakfast table. Guests loved the freshness of the herbs and the beauty of the flowers. Gardening brought me such serenity and peace.

The new owners Kay and Glenn Dunn have only grown the gardens and beauty of the place.

We can agree that growing your own flowers, vegetables, and herbs can help us feel good about ourselves. It did me. Gardening helps build self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment. But that’s not all.

Gardening has many benefits

· Reduces stress.

· Reduces anxiety and depression

· Builds a sense of community.

· Provides Vitamin D

· Strength building

Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

Sure, gardening can definitely be relaxing. Just spending time outdoors can provide a change of scenery and boost our mood. But research shows that spending time outdoors through gardening reduces stress, depression, and anxiety by creating a mindful attitude of the here and now.

Being in the present moment through gardening helps us stop those racing thoughts and allows us to focus on the task at hand.

In “Gardening for health: a regular dose of gardening by Richard Thompson, he details research that shows how “green care”, the act of working in the garden or having plants in open areas, help reduce blood pressure, stress, pulse rate, and muscle tension. He advocates for doctors to prescribe this holistic approach to even dental patients for a faster recovery. According to Thompson’s research, prisons and nursing homes are just two of the many places where people have benefited from “green care”.

Now you know why doctor’s offices, schools, and other places of business have those wandering vines all over the place. They just make you feel good.

Building Community

How can gardening build community? Well, you can share what you grow: fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. But not only building community through sharing, there are many communities that have community gardens.

To be part of a community garden, people pay a small amount of time and money to share in the work and harvest of a garden, sometimes planted on a piece of land the community has available. Within this gardening community, people get to know each other and share in the benefits and rewards of the garden.

According to Susan Patterson, Master Gardener, if you don’t have the space or funds to have your own garden … get in on the community garden in your hometown.

Why not check out your local chamber of commerce and ask if your town has a community garden.

Vitamin D

Living in Florida can get very hot, but with a wide-brimmed hat, gloves, and a long-sleeved shirt, gardening can be fun, relaxing, and rewarding. Even as you protect yourself from the sun, you can still benefit from a good dose of natural vitamin D.

Vitamin D not only helps you fight disease, but it helps you absorb calcium and phosphorus. This wonderful vitamin also helps decrease your risk of getting the flu, reduces depression and stress, and helps with weight loss.

Strength Building

If you’ve ever decided to get some exercise, then found out how sore and weak you became, you know what atrophied muscles feel like. Getting into gardening can help you work muscles you haven’t stretched in other ways.

Bending down, reaching, and raising your arms, even in small ways, all help you build muscle tone and keep you fit.

I can’t have success with all the same kinds of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers as I did in Vermont while living in Florida, but that’s the fun of gardening. Get to know what grows well in your state and region of the country.

Most communities have a garden club, and people at local hardware and gardening stores who are willing to help you out as you learn to dig in the ground.

And PS, maybe gardening makes you feel so good because digging in the dirt also releases a bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae. Anne Cissel writes about this little bacterium in her blog. She reports that this bacteria can reduce the symptoms of asthma, increase serotonin in the brain, and provide a feeling of well-being.

So, enjoy your garden and the wonderful feelings of peace that it produces in you.

“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.” Jeremiah 29:5.

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Lori Carol Maloy, Author

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