The more we learn about mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, the more obvious it becomes that the solution to these issues doesn’t only lie in medical treatment, but in an all-rounded, holistic approach that includes positive lifestyle changes. One of them is finding time for hobbies that allow you to grow yourself, become more focused and more mindful. If you live in a house, one way of easing the symptoms of anxiety and depression is to spend more time gardening. Apart from giving you a constant supply of flowers and fresh produce, gardening has been proven to improve mood and provide long term mental health benefits.
The happy chemistry behind gardening
Gardening isn’t good for you just because it’s relaxing, but also because contact with soil increase levels of Serotonin. Studies show that soil-specific bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, which is naturally found in soil, works as an anti-depressant and strengthens the immune system. So put those gloves and protective clothing away and you will feel much better.
How gardening makes you feel better
Gardening is one of the most popular mental health boosters, so much so that it has become one of the favorite treatments among celebrities. Why exactly does that happen? It all starts with our genetic code. When humans were gatherers, the brain released a flush of dopamine whenever we plucked a fruit or vegetable. This reward system still works today, so we feel a surge of euphoria when we do that. Then there’s also the satisfaction of growing your own plants, fruits and vegetables, which boost your self-esteem and make you feel happy for accomplishing something.
Gardening is also a great way to stay focused and keep anxious thoughts at bay. Because gardening requires you to pay attention to what you are doing, coping with negative thoughts will be easier. Gardening increases focus, which makes it a great therapy for students who need to study or are struggling with exam stress.
When you are gardening, you are in a calm and peaceful environment that helps you be grounded in the present moment and practice mindfulness. Take a few hours for this hobby every day and enjoy every minute of it. Don’t try to rush things, because you’re not on a deadline. Take the time to feel the texture of the soil and its earthy smell. Observe the colors and textures of the flowers, and block all thoughts about the outside world. It will be difficult at first, but the more you practice mindfulness in the garden, the easier it will be for you to avoid anxious thoughts and be defeated by depression.
You don’t need a large garden or expensive gardening tools to feel better. One small patch of land and a few seeds are all it takes to start a hobby that can redefine your life by teaching you mindfulness and boosting happiness levels.