Feeling topsy-turvy in today's world of uncertainty? Us too. Enter gardening! Along with the physical health benefits that accompany the freshest and most delicious produce, tending to your Living Wall has been scientifically proven to boost your mood and your overall mental health! Read on to learn more.
At Planted Places we are all about creating and living a healthy lifestyle. As you know, for most of us this is a journey. Sometimes we can string together a few good months of consistent mostly healthy choices (Hands off our “cheat days”! We are keeping them!), but sometimes -- especially these days -- it can feel hard to string together two solid weeks of mostly good behavior! It takes action, commitment, consistency and no whammies! It's like this for all of us, all the time. Habits and behaviors that support a healthy lifestyle pay into overall mental health in many different and awesome ways. Today we want to highlight how growing food nourishes your gut and your brain.
Gardening has been scientifically proven to improve your physical and mental health beyond a daily dose of Vitamin D, here are three of our favorite ways:
1. Gardening Decreases Stress Hormones!
Yes you read that right. Gardening decreases levels of cortisol, the main stress hormone in the body. A recent study published in the Journal of Health Psychology examined the effects of both gardening and reading on stress levels. The study showed that
“both gardening and reading decrease cortisol levels. However, stress levels decrease significantly more with gardening. Likewise, the study participants enjoyed a fully restored positive mood after gardening.”
2. An Everyday Opportunity to Practice Acceptance of What We Cannot Control (A Planted Places favorite!)
Can we see a show of hands for everyone who feels slightly out of control right now? Thank you, you can all put your hands down now. Most of us are wrestling with the inability to influence the world around us. No longer can we reliably plan for the future, as nobody truly knows what life is going to look like when we get there. It sounds crazy and counter intuitive, but the more comfortable we can get with situations we cannot control, the better equipped we will be to deal with our uncertain world! Gardening provides opportunities each day to work on our ability to accept that which we cannot control.
Imagine your frustration when you wake up to half of your crop eaten by a mysterious, marauding deer. Or an infestation of snails in your pristine arugula? These are common scenarios in the gardening world, as you cannot control nature. But you can use your garden as a living lesson in acceptance. “Most of our suffering comes from trying to control things that we can't,” says psychologist Seth J. Gillihan, PhD. “The more we can accept the limits of our control and the unpredictability of life, the more peace of mind we can find—and gardening is a great way to practice.”
3. Your Delicious Produce will Nourish Your Body and Mind!
Just as the process of gardening is healthy, so are the results! Your fresh produce, full of vitamins and minerals, will contribute to a whole, healthy diet, a major benefit to both your physical and mental health!
After two earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand, Rucklidge and colleagues studied the effects of micronutrients on mental health. The results showed a decided effect on the mental health of the participants who received the micronutrients. “Participants who received high doses of micronutrients reported significantly lower levels of anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress symptoms,” according to the study. In a follow-up study a year later, the benefits were still present in the participants.