Whether you are diagnosed with depression, are experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or you simply understand that mental health should not be separated from health, being active is the one of the best things you can do to prevent problems and boost your overall happiness. Gardening tops the list for activities that encourage a strong mental wellbeing because it responds to a lot of our natural drives, mainly:
- Producing something Tangible
- Providing Excellent Nutrition for You and your family
- Control and Nesting
- Environmental concerns and “Doing Good”
- It’s Fun
- Beating a Challenge
Since we are descended from hunter/gatherers, we still have the drive to grow and find our own food sources and other supplies. Going to the store to get food and flowers shipped from all over the world tends to chafe against our natural inclinations. Not only does gardening help bring fresh, healthfully grown plants to our dining room, it is also environmentally responsible so it makes us feel good. It also brings the possibility of hosting dinners and making homemade gifts from what you have grown which helps create a more positive social life. Those of us who suffer from depression understand that sometimes you just want to hide away, especially if you also have financial difficulties, so producing something tangible is one way to encourage yourself to interact more with other people.
While you plan, create, nurture, and harvest your beautiful garden, you are given a certain amount of control over your life. You can choose whether to only grow edibles, flowers, herbs, or a mix. You choose organic, hydroponic, or gardening with soil. You get to control how pests are prevented and managed. Most importantly, you get to display something that is uniquely yours in a world that demands many things from you without your desires fully realized, pushing and pulling you in all directions, so you can be more susceptible to mental health issues. Gardening allows for you to “nest” – a term normally used for new mothers creating a space for a baby – and create something tangible from your own vision. You can also do it year round with all of the modern hydroponic light systems.
Have you seen a tiny little seed grow into a beautiful flower? Have you worried and nurtured a plant hoping that it will grow and it finally does? Isn’t that the most wonderful feeling of achievement? How about biting into a freshly harvested pea pod or tomato that you have grown yourself? It tastes so much better than the produce laced with pesticides and shipped from miles away. The unintended consequences of year-round-availability for a lot of our food is that it lacks the clean and bright taste that newly harvested food has. You can bring back pleasure to your table by growing at least some of your family’s food and have a lot of fun doing it!
The exercise involved is also a benefit to your wellbeing so maybe it’s time you pick up some lawncare tips, throw on some old clothes and visit the garden for some therapeutic activity.