ations around the world continue to battle the disastrous effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). With global infections and deaths reaching record-breaking numbers, people are becoming prone to mental issues like anxiety attacks and mood disorders. People are also worried about what life will be like in the so-called new normal.
Amidst the stressful situation, psychologists are expressing concern about a surge in mental health challenges and encouraging people to guard their mental state through self-care.
What is Self-Care?
According to a medical site in Australia, self-care “refers to the activities and practices that we deliberately choose to engage in regularly to maintain and enhance our health and wellbeing.” Self-care is essential now, more than ever, to help you tune out the noise and uncertainties in these challenging times.
Boosting Your Mental Health through Gardening
When it comes to mental health, healthcare professionals often recommend making healthy lifestyle choices like exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and the like.
If we are to add to this list of psychologically-friendly activities, we say it has to be gardening. Gardening is an activity that relaxes both your mind and your body, so it can be an excellent way to forget your worries momentarily.
Here are some reasons that make gardening beneficial for your mental health:
- Gardening enhances brain functions
There have been studies suggesting that gardening can help reduce cases of dementia in older people. A big part of the reason is that gardening involves a lot of brain functions, including those related to problem-solving, retaining focus or concentration, and sharpening memory skills. All of these critical tasks help in keeping your brain healthy and preventing it from deteriorating as you age.
- Gardening can lift spirits
There are several ways gardening can improve your mood. For one, being out in the sun allows you to get serotonin, a chemical that your nerve cells produce. Among the things that serotonin does is stabilize your mood so that you feel more emotionally stable and less anxious.
Serotonin is also believed to help regulate sleep patterns, which is why getting your gardening tools out can be useful in warding off negative thoughts or emotions.
Plus, since gardening is a form of exercise, you get a healthy dose of endorphins, too. Although there’s no running or lifting of weights involved in gardening, you still get to do a lot of digging, raking, and weeding, so it feels a lot like you’re working out. In the process, your brain releases the feel-good hormone endorphin.
Gardening during the day helps in stimulating yet another hormone, the sleep hormone melatonin. Melatonin acts as a sleeping aid, so you may find yourself falling asleep faster, having more sleep time, and having improved sleep quality.
- Gardening gives a sense of purpose and achievement
Stressful times make you more susceptible to episodes of loneliness. You may feel as if your life lacks purpose or meaning. You may also lose the energy to put control back into your life. Gardening has the potential to change your perspective in more ways than you can imagine.
When you wake up each morning, you feel a sense of excitement knowing that you need to tend to your plants so they’ll keep growing. Plants are beautiful living things, and the fact that their existence depends on your gentle and caring hands can boost morale. You feel a sense of pride as you see your garden blossom into a thing of life and beauty.
Well-maintained plants aren’t the only things that make for an eco-friendly home. You can also grow a variety of crops, fruits, and vegetables right in your own garden, making you more self-sufficient and a good steward of nature.
- Gardening is a way of reconnecting with nature
Speaking of nature, it’s one of the best places for reflection when you’re feeling low. You don’t, however, need to go on an out-of-the-town trip to commune with nature, when you can just spend time in your home garden.
You don’t even need to have a big space for it. You can simply transform a tiny space in your veranda or balcony into a mini-garden, and you’ll be amazed at how calm and peaceful you feel even with a bit of greenery around you.
- Gardening can lead to new acquaintances and experiences
Mental health problems are usually associated with feelings of isolation when you would rather spend time with your own company or in your comfort zone instead of going out to interact with other people.
Gardening can be instrumental in providing you with a support network. Within your community, there are probably people who are as passionate about gardening as you are. You can organize or participate in small group gardening activities so that, gradually, you’ll feel more confident meeting new people and creating meaningful experiences to put your mind at ease.
- Gardening serves as a breather from today’s tech-driven life
As with everything in life, too much use of technology can negatively affect your mind. This is especially true when you’re receiving a steady stream of information that makes you feel confused and overwhelmed.
Gardening provides a welcome respite from the ills of modern living. Whether you’re admiring the sight and scent of greens or spending time in meditation, gardening can rejuvenate your tired body and mind from the stresses of the always-on mode and fast-paced life. It’s like allowing yourself to go back to the basics of finding time for yourself, your family, and the little things in life.
Boosting Mental Health in the New Normal
Every time a crisis or disaster happens, it’s expected that people’s mental health will take a hit, too. The current pandemic is no different, causing people to suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
Still, people always seem to find a way to bounce back, showing the immense power of the human mind and spirit that’s like no other. This should remind you that even though we’re in a pandemic, it’s possible to lead a healthy and productive life. Keeping your mental health in shape is a good place to start.
Aside from gardening, what other mental health boosters can you suggest? Share us your thoughts!
About the Author
Michael Hill is the Marketing Manager at Ayala Land International. He believes that everyday is a chance to learn something new. In his free time, he writes about home improvement, personal finance, and lifestyle articles while listening to soul and jazz music.