As a keen gardener I know the great feelings I have after spending time connecting to the earth, planting seedlings and harvesting fresh food. I always feel better emotionally after spending time outdoors. There’s so much research to prove that gardening improves our well-being and gardens are being established for health and healing throughout the world. The Chelsea Physic Garden in the UK has stunning gardens established for medicinal and edible uses. Find out more here.
Most of us at some time in our lives have feelings of low energy, feeling down, melancholy or depression. I’ve felt this way at times throughout my life and know that connecting with the garden would make me feel better and also more grounded.
Being outdoors offers a sense of relief, freedom and can lift our spirits dramatically.
Why does this happen ??
In many studies, people with low energy, low self-esteem, negative thoughts and other forms of mental illness have shown great improvements from spending up to an hour a day in the garden. Gardening calms nerves, reduces blood pressure, reduces stress and decreases stress hormone, cortisol. Many doctors prescribed gardening and other outdoor activities to help patients overcome depression as time spent gardening can reduce the need for prescription drugs.
Spending active time gardening can also burn up to 1200kj (almost 300 calories) which can encourage weight loss, improve fitness and overall health and wellbeing.
Research also shows that spending time working in the garden with others creates great friendships, improves self-esteem, gives people a feeling of belonging and being helpful and offers plenty of fresh food to enjoy and share. The fresh food grown by gardeners is packed with nutrients, which also supports good health.
Another way of connecting with nature is ‘Being’ in nature, not ‘doing’. We all become good at ‘well-doing’ but not so good at ‘well-being’. This leads to busy lives, stress, less nutritious foods and less time in nature. By spending time throughout the day connecting with nature we can reduce stressful feelings and increase our wellness.
Annie Clark, from The Art of Wellness suggests spending 2 minutes each day focusing on something beautiful. That could be a flower, tree, a forest, bird sounds or the blue sky. Just spending the time focused on something uplifting, rather than stressful or negative thoughts can improve your health and boost your immune system. So just 2 minutes a day in nature…I think that’s pretty easy to do to achieve great improvements in our wellness.
Here’s a few ways to increase your well-being through gardening…
Creating an environment of calmness for your mind and body will instantly remove signs of stress. A great way to do this is by getting your hands dirty. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious head outside and get your hands in the dirt. Find a few earthworms, pull out some weeds, connect your feet to the earth and just ‘be’ in the calm space of nature. Earthing or grounding lifts your spirits and helps build a strong immune system. The easiest way to do this is get your feet on the ground, yes remove your shoes and get your hands in the earth…Aahhh !
Sowing seeds is a relaxing activity for me. I gather all my materials, make a nice cup of tea and sit on the patio overlooking the garden. I find this a relaxing activity as I’m going slow, growing new plants from seed and thinking about the beautiful plants that will be growing for me very soon. This also gives me time to stop everything else going on in life and just focusing on placing tiny little seeds in soil. A very meditative way to enjoy gardening and the serenity it offers.
I read this quote in a Dr Wayne W Dyer book “…the way we observe the world we live in affects that world” It made me reflect on how I see the world, being earth, and my view of the world would affect the world…Mmmm…
So I realised that by spending time connected to earth and nature, by appreciating its beauty then I could actually have a positive impact on earth. I think this relates wonderfully to gardening. When we spend time in the garden improving the soil, propagating plants, watering the gardens we are actually giving the garden and the plants our positive energy, so this will help them thrive. And they also give all that great energy back to us.
Dr Dyer also says “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change”
Looking at nature and appreciating its beauty reminds us of the wonderful things that we have around us. I’m sure this is a great way of creating positive thoughts and feelings in us all.
I know that everyone who grows their own food has a feeling of good health and well-being from growing and enjoying their harvests. There really isn’t any food as good as home-grown food. I love being able to harvest fresh produce and cook a meal for my family. The food is packed with nutrients, flavour and is just so fresh.
The nurturing and care that goes into growing food is taken in by the plants and released when we cook (or chop) and serve to our family and friends. Fresh food is full of all the nutrients that the plant has available, so by picking and serving fresh greens and herbs you’re providing the most nutrients that the plants have to offer.
Growing food and gardening also offers good health through the physical time spent in the garden and triggers the production of endorphins through the body.
“I leave the garden bursting with endorphins and feeling on top of the world” Thrive, UK gardener.
Aahhh, harvesting fresh food, I just love it !! Whether it’s picking fresh flowers, herbs or a few goodies for dinner, I’m so grateful for the gorgeous things growing in the garden. At times my garden doesn’t have loads of food growing, especially through dry times of the year. But I can always find a few flowers, parsley, silverbeet or delicious tomatoes to pick and use.
Harvesting food is also fun for the kids. My boys will spend time picking different things and eating them on the spot or bring them inside to use later on. Lemons and Limes are popular with the kids as we make cool drinks through summer.
Harvesting means you are being rewarded for all the great time you’ve spent nurturing the garden and it’s also time to reflect on the abundance all around us.
There are many positive outcomes to growing and harvesting your own fresh food or beautiful flowers. I suggest you give it a try today and feel the uplifting benefits to your body and mind.
What simple steps do you take to nurture your health and wellbeing?? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
If you’d like to know more about growing healthy clean food, you’ll find a free video and eBook with a simple guide to growing your garden HERE.
Also consider sharing the love (via buttons below) with anyone that you could inspire to grow.
This article is an extract from ‘Running on Empty‘ , by Annie Clarke. The book is released December 2013. For more information visit www.bewell.com.au
© cath manuel 1 december 2013