There’s a whole lot going on in the world right now, and none of it seems particularly great. But I’m here to share my sanity saver which, admittedly, quite a few people I know think I’m a bit weird for it, but let me explain to you how building gardens can change your whole world view, or, at least, make things a wee bit better.
I love building gardens, full of both vegetables and flowers. The worse the world seems, the more I garden. I don’t even live in a house that I own, I’m making the place better for my landlord. This is what many people tend to find particularly odd, but it doesn’t matter because it’s something that makes me happy right now and it will last after I leave, so I view it as paying it forward.
Getting Down and Dirty Reduces Stress
Don’t take my word for it, scientists have actually found evidence that digging around in the dirt is really good for one’s mental health. The University of Colorado spent twenty years researching how interacting with soil affects humans’ mental health. What they found, which you can read here is that soil contains microorganisms that act as stress busters and anxiety reducers, so don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, instead, seek it out.
A Tangible Accomplishment
Creativity can take many forms, but if you’ve ever created something from scratch, whether it’s a drawing, a painting, a piece of furniture, a fantastic cake, you know the feeling of satisfaction of having made something that is a finished product you can look at and be proud. Gardens fit squarely into this category. You start with a boring plot of land and turn it into something beautiful. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and every time you look at it you are reminded that you are capable of accomplishing something.
If you have the type of job where you are behind a desk or managing but don’t see a direct result, building something that is tangible can be extremely gratifying. Even more important this year, when the world seems like it is spinning out of control, this can really help your mental state.
A Good Workout
One of the reasons people are reluctant to get out and start digging is one of the reasons they actually should do it: it’s hard, physical work. Squatting, digging, hauling and cardio are all requirements of turning a plot of land into a garden. Your body will thank you for the workout, and you don’t need to hire a trainer to push you to keep going, you simply need to finish the task at hand. Exercise has repeatedly been proven one of the most effective mood-boosters on earth, so you can add that to the list of reasons gardening will make you happy.
Your Stomach Will Thank You
Gardening can actually help your physical shape in more ways than just being a good workout. If you have never tasted a home-grown tomato versus a store bought one, you need to grow your own or ask a neighbor who has home grown ones to give you a taste. The difference is staggering. I promise you will never go back.
It’s also empowering to know you can grow your own food. If things shut down around you from COVID-19 or some other reason and you have a garden full of delicious fruits and veggies, it can definitely take some anxiety away. If you have kids, it’s also a great way to get them to indulge in veggies. My kids turn up their noses at veggies at the dinner table, but for some reason really enjoy going out and munching on peas and cucumbers right off the vine.
I do feel like this one is stating the obvious, but seriously, who doesn’t like flowers? You can cut bouquets to liven up your home, or simply surround yourself with them outside. It’s hard to be in a bad mood when surrounded by a rainbow of beautiful colors and blooms.If you have a hard day of work, and walk up to a house that is surrounded by beautiful flowers, it can lift your spirits immediately. And hey, maybe it will lift your neighbors spirits too.
Laura has been writing and editing for more than 25 years, a fact which more than a source of pride, sends her running to the wrinkle cream aisle of CVS. She has worked for CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, The Economist Intelligence Unit, and CBS radio. She has three children, and you will either find her thoroughly enjoying their company or yelling at them to clean up after themselves and turn off the lights.