Friday, April 24, 2020

Gardening for Well-Being

By Ginger Baer, Gilpin County Master Gardener

Spring is the time of year when I am anxious to get outside and start digging in the dirt. My daffodils are popping up, the perennials are showing signs of life, and the sun is starting to warm the soil.

Now, probably more than ever, with Covid-19 in 2020 , I am getting particularly anxious to get outdoors and make my garden grow.

This year there are many initiatives to get people out in their gardens and start growing their own food. CSU Extension has started a Grow & Give Victory Garden program this year.
CSU Grow & Give program

Are you new to gardening? Not a problem. There are many learning tools available to you. The Grow & Give project has released many videos to help get your started. Are you an experienced gardener? Well then, you know how good it feels to get out in the garden.

There are many reasons why this program will be good for your wellbeing. When you grow a garden you are getting outdoors. Looking after your plants gives you purpose and the ability to nurture. It’s good to be connected to living things. Especially this year when we are all self isolating. Being in your garden helps you to relax and let go. It gets you away from the news and constant barrage of all that is wrong in the world right now. Being out in nature gives you exercise and helps your body to release the happiness hormones, serotonin and dopamine. Gardening also allows us to vent and release anger. Pull that weed! It also lets you gain some control at the same time.1
Girl in garden
You know what even feels better? Growing with a purpose. How many times have you found that you have produced more in your garden than what you can actually use? Think zucchini. So why not grow that little bit extra and donate it to your local food bank? This year especially, there is a huge amount of pressure being put on our food banks due to the loss of so many jobs. Grow and Give.

Woman in garden
Gardening is now becoming a normal prescription for people who are fighting anxiety and depression. The sense of purpose, the exercise, exposure to the sun are many of the reasons that this is a useful tool to oversome anxiety and depression. 2

Gardening programs have been developed by mental health therapists and are are tailored to individuals’ needs, working with them to set goals that will improve their health and wellbeing. This process is called social and therapeutic horticulture (STH). It can:
  • Reduce depression, anxiety and stress-related symptoms
  • Alleviate the symptoms of dementia, such as aggressive behavior
  • Increase the ability to concentrate and engage
  • Reduce reliance on medication, self-harming behavior 3
So, the bottom line is: Get outdoors, get gardening and feel terrific!

2. mental-health

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