I used to think starting a garden sounded stressful. Then I tried it myself and realized I couldn’t have been more wrong!
I’m a #PlantMom, and while I love my indoor plant babies, having an outdoor garden now really makes a big difference. It allows them to my new plants more sun and rain, so they’ve been really thriving. And oddly enough since I started gardening, I’ve also been thriving.
Whether you have a balcony or an entire yard for your garden, you can (and should) take the time to go outside and care for your plants — and yourself.
Sometimes the simplest, most natural and serene of activities can really bring you back to center and remind you of what’s most important in life. That’s what gardening has done for me.
Keep reading to find out how gardening can actually improve your well-being and mental health, and remind you of a few really important lessons along the way.
1. It forces you to let go, and try again.
Gardening can be trial and error.
Finding the right plants for you; your environment, your lifestyle and your resources, can be tough.
Sometimes, it doesn’t work out.
You’ll encounter adversity. You’ll fight against crappy weather and pests.
If you plant vegetables outside, you’ll want to know some tips for keeping rabbits out of your garden. Still, if a critter happens to snatch a few carrots or peas from your garden, or you are faced with a long stint of dry weather right when you need the rain the most, you’ll learn the art of letting go and trying again next time.
2. It allows you to appreciate growth and progress.
My favorite thing about keeping a garden is watching everything change and grow.
Succulents will change instantly with sunlight and water. Tomatoes and peas offer instant gratification since they grow quickly and produce a high yield.
When flowers bloom, they attract butterflies and transform your property into a dream world.
As nature goes through its stages of life, it offers us the lesson of growth and evolution. We can then see that same growth in ourselves, and accept that we too go through seasons of change. It’s a good thing. It means you’re moving forward, just like your garden is.
3. It provokes thoughtfulness.
Planning a garden and keeping your plants alive requires a great deal of thought. You must take care of each plant in the special way that it requires or risk losing it. Some plants require a great deal of water, while others may require a lot of sunlight. Some plants need special nutrients, while others need regular trimming and pruning.
You find yourself thinking through scenarios and predicting outcomes. Doing research and considering different care. You make decisions every day you manage a garden, and get your brain moving without exhausting it. This promotes thoughtfulness and organization in a way that naturally flows into the rest of your life, like at home or in the office.
4. It reminds you to nourish the relationships around you.
When you’re gardening, you’re constantly calculating the nourishment your plants need.
How much water? How much sunlight? How much fertilizer?
Do they have the right soil? Are they planted in the best place? Are you paying them enough attention?
It’s natural to draw these same questions into your personal life and ask them about the relationships that you have to nourish. With your family, your friends, your colleagues, your community, and even yourself.
Gardening is also a beautiful and safe activity to share with those people. Kids love digging around in the mud, and can also learn a lot from spending some time in the garden.
5. It encourages you to get active.
The health benefits of gardening are non-stop. If you want a reason to get active, you should start a garden. Gardening requires regular maintenance to keep your plants alive and looking their best. Depending on what you plant, you may be in your garden most days of the week. Even flower gardens require at least a weekly watering — especially if your area hasn’t had much rain recently.
It’s a constant reason to get outside and get moving, and a fun Saturday workout when you need to work on bigger jobs like weed-pulling and mulching. Just turn on that smart watch and get that heart rate up.
6. It shows you that nature really is healing.
Known as Shinin-Yoku, forest bathing is a form of nature therapy that supports the idea that you gain health benefits from exposure to nature.
I often feel better after spending time outdoors, whether I take a nature walk or simply sit outside on my patio. Surrounding yourself with natural green shades has been found to quicken recovery from surgery and help those dealing with depression, anxiety and other health conditions as it helps to reduce stress.
The psychological benefits of outdoor gardening are learning how to deal with change, figuring out how to let go of what isn’t serving you and becoming mindful. You can eliminate some of your stress by going outside, surrounding yourself with nature and getting active.
By allowing your brain to slow down and appreciate the little moments, it gives you the power and strength you need to tackle the big moments when you have to.
Keep track of which aspects of your hobbies, like gardening, are truly leaving an impact on you.
Cherish them. Share them. Remember them.
There can be peace, rest and joyfulness found in our favorite activites.
So happy gardening, friends.