Gardening is better than Prozac and you get tomatoes. It is a long held theory, bordering on fact that gardening is better than any drugs for your mental hygiene. Struggling with anxiety and depression ? ... get yourself out to the garden and stay away from that medicine cabinet.
If you have ever gardened, you know it makes you feel good although you are not really sure why. The positive impact on your mental health is undeniable.
The sun on your back, the songbirds chorus, the butterflies fluttering by and the bees busily buzzing to and fro create an ambiance no restaurant can mimic. Gardening is fodder for the soul, not just in the warm months but all year long. Not only is it great excercise that can match any cardios but you can see and measure your progress with each new sunrise.
It instills a sense of well-being and primitive euphoria almost as good as an orgasm. There is strong evidence of gardening being an effective treatment and preventative of mental illness, not just based on personal experience or old wives tales, but true scientifically evaluated proof.
We can only theorize how it does this, and how much it actually helps you mental well being, but it does. For some gardeners, the garden is only a seasonal routine that brings elation and a sense of satisfaction. Seasoned gardeners will parrot the joys getting their hands in the dirt that makes them happy. Even in the doggiest days of summer they will be out there battling the heat and elements to nurture their little green acre.
Several Reasons Gardening helps Mental Health
Physical activity: Gardening gets you working - lifting, hauling, bending, hoeing ... it's not a spectator sport. Physical activity gets your blood pumping increases your respiratory rate and hence increases your circulation bringing more oxygen to your cells. This sort of physical activity naturally relieves stress and improves your attituide, disposition and temperament.
Social Anxiety: Gardening can help to test your limits within the safe and familiar confines of your yard. It gives you the impetus to confront personal anxieties without the social pressures present under other circumstances.
Responsibility: Nurturing your garden through the various progressive phases of the season is a responsibility that gardeners take very seriously. A rotten tomato or bug infested cucumber can try your patience. Those plants become like your children and their well being is embedded in your thoughts forever more, or untill season end ... whichever comes first.
You worry that your plants don’t do eat well [fertilizer, water] and you glow with enthusiastic pride when a bountiful harvest comes in. As in Parenting, Gardening forces you to take responsibility for something other than yourself. It gets your mind out of your self centered egotistical realm and improves your mental health.
Connecting with Nature: Gardening connects you with the biosphere we all live in and with all the living elements of the natural world. This adds perspective to our existence, we sense the connection with the Earth and break away from the isolation of the self. YOU are no longer the center of the universe, you have a place in this world, and are a contributor to a small part of its well being.
Sense of accomplishment: With each new day you accomplish something in your garden. Tilling the soil, planting seeds, cultivating around plants, watering, fertilizing, troubleshooting and finally harvesting your bounty. Your accomplishments are marked, they are real and you can eat them. A sense of pride in that accomplishment contributes vastly to positive self-esteem.