Expert Advice from Chris Faria, Gardener and Owner of Agra Living
Did you know when we get soil under our fingernails it triggers our brain to release serotonin, a natural antidepressant? That’s right, this is thanks to a commonly found bacteria in the soil. What a great reason to spend more time working in the garden, gloveless!
Ask anyone that gardens regularly and they can’t help but sing about how their time in the garden is their free therapy or escape from their hectic lives. There are many ways that working with plants or the soil can benefit mental health.
For one, to grow plants successfully you need to have a balanced approach to control. You need to be there to plant the seeds, make sure that they are in the right climate and to water them. But the actual process of germination is out of your control leaving you to trust in the powers of those seeds and Mother Nature. This enables you to be more comfortable with uncertainty and brings to focus the things that you can have control over.
To participate in the miracle of a seed germinating and then navigating life until reaching its life purpose – to pass on its genetics in the form of its fruit that in turn nurtures you- is a truly humbling (and delicious!) experience. Growing your own food in the garden gives you many ways to use your senses to connect with nature, fostering mindfulness and eating the healthy fresh food that you grew improves overall physical health which as we all know is intrinsically linked to improved mental health.
The act of gardening also allows you to be more in the moment instead of worrying yourself with tomorrow or dwelling on the past. This process has been shown to be highly beneficial for those who struggle with mental disorder, such as depression, anxiety and ADHD. Gardening engages the senses which then draws your attention to the here and now. Whether you are gently transplanting broccoli seedlings into the garden, hearing the sound of the fallen avocado leaves being raked up or feeling the soil under your digging fork; these activities are powerful tools to foster well-being in your life.
Gardening solo allows you to create a safe space to escape from the demands of our busy lives. However, growing in the garden with others gives you the opportunity to have the same mental health benefits but with the added element of human relationships. Unfortunately, many who suffer from mental illness have a hard time have trusting and meaningful connections with others. If you can transfer the healing that comes from your time in the garden to others in a community setting, then the process can begin where mistrust and isolation is exchanged for connection and acceptance.
5 WAYS TO RECONNECT IN THE GARDEN
- Vitamin D, spending 15 minutes outside in the garden gives you your daily required amount of Vitamin D which has been proven to prevent depression.
- Grounding, simply standing in the garden barefoot connects you with the vibrations coming up from the earth, providing and a sense of belonging.
- Help others with their garden, once you’ve got your garden set up check to see if your neighbors need help creating a garden. Helping others and sharing your experience are great ways to improve your sense of self and overall mood.
- Eating your homegrown vegetables, you are what we eat so the more fresh, whole food you eat the better you are going to feel!
- Garden gloveless, as was stated at the beginning, working directly with the soil releases anti-depressants. Do you need any more reasons to show the interconnectedness you have with nature?
For our how-to videos on the basics of growing a healthy garden visit their YouTube Channel, AgraLiving or visit on Facebook @GrowBiointensiveBermuda