“When the world feels like an emotional roller coaster, steady yourself with simple rituals. Do the dishes. Launder the laundry. Water the plants. Simplicity attracts wisdom.” ~Unknown
I’ve suffered from anxiety since my childhood, but it was only seven years ago that I was formally diagnosed.
Following the end of my long-term marriage, I noticed that my symptoms were getting worse. It felt like everything was falling apart around me.
Extreme fatigue was a constant worry. I had trouble concentrating and sleeping well.
In the years that followed, my mental health continued to decline and I struggled to find energy or motivation to go through each day.
I eventually quit my stressful government job, and returned to my hometown to be with my mother.
It was the first time I had ever been unemployed in my entire life.
Although I had been prescribed medication to treat my anxiety, I experienced weight gain as well as other side effects.
After experiencing no relief from my medication I decided to heal myself on my own.
While I received advice from several different professionals, such as a naturopath and herbalist, it did not help much. I continued to worry excessively and had negative thoughts.
I’d read about the benefits of gardening for mental health, so one day I decided to tackle the overgrown mess in the corner of my mom’s backyard.
Although it seemed daunting at first, I was able to spend about 15-20 minutes per day weeding and the garden looked great after one week.
I wasn’t an experienced gardener, so I did some research to find out which vegetables were the easiest to grow.
I decided on tomatoes, lettuces, cucumbers, zucchinis, and then I purchased the seedlings from my local nursery.
To keep the birds in my view while out in the garden, I installed a bird bath.
It was so much fun to watch the birds play in the backyard. I decided to build a bird feeder to attract even more birds.
It took several months for me to notice that I was experiencing improvement.
I was feeling calmer and more centered, and I wasn’t worrying about every little thing.
My sanctuary, the garden, is where I find the greatest peace and tranquility.
There are many benefits to gardening, both mentally and physically.
When I’m out in the garden my mind is fully focused on the task at hand, so I’m not stressing about things from the past or what’s going on in my life at the time.
I make an effort to appreciate and admire the beauty of the plants, and it’s really satisfying to watch them grow from tiny seedlings into mature plants.
As well as vegetables, I’m now also growing herbs and a variety of different flowers, which are great for attracting bees and butterflies to the garden.
I was unable to exercise when my anxiety was the worst. I was exhausted even just by doing the minimum of tasks such as showering or cooking.
When I began spending more time in my garden, my energy increased and I felt stronger due to all of the digging, weeding and bending I did.
Being out in the beautiful sunshine lifts my mood and it’s a great source of vitamin D, which can help to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression, while also boosting the immune system.
The ability to pick beautiful, fresh vegetables and herbs from my garden motivated me to experiment with healthier cooking techniques so I was able to eat more healthily than ever before.
The crisp lettuce and juicy tomatoes straight from the garden were so much more flavorful than anything I’d tasted from the grocery store, and I’m sure they were much more nutritious as well.
If you have the space in your backyard to create a little garden, I’d definitely recommend giving it a try.
What if you don’t have a garden?
Try container gardening.
You can grow many vegetables in containers such as radishes or peppers.
Indoor plants are a great option.
Indoor plants can bring nature inside, so there is a lot of great indoor plants.
You could also consider a rubber or prayer plant, depending on how much space you have.
You can create a windowsill gardening.
A small herb garden could be started if you have an open window with sun.
The best herbs for flavoring your food are quick-growing, easy-to-care for, and can be used in a variety of ways.
Get involved in a community garden.
Community gardens are popping up all over the place in cities around the country, and they’re great for meeting likeminded people who can share their gardening experience with you.
Enjoy time outdoors.
If you’re not a green thumb you can still get the benefits of plants by getting out in nature.
Take a hike, if there are trails near you, or walk through a park to see a botanical garden. Or, read under trees.
If you ever feel anxious or stressed, you can surround yourself with plants to help you feel more calm.
Whether it’s caring for a small house plant, creating a garden of your own, or simply spending more time in nature, your mental health will benefit from having plants around you.
I trust this inspired you!
Kelly Taylor founded Urban Garden Gal. This website is for beginners who are interested in gardening. Water Garden Advice, which she also manages, is where Kelly Taylor shares tips on how to create and maintain garden ponds.
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Tiny Buddha published the post A Natural Approach to Mental Health: How to Lower Anxiety through Gardening.