The other day I passed a store window with a t-shirt hanging in it that read: “Gardening is cheaper than therapy…and you get tomatoes.”
Without minimizing the value of talk therapy for many people, there is something to the words on the t-shirt. Horticultural therapy is based on the physical, mental and emotional benefits that come from gardening. The interaction with nature and working outdoors have a positive effect for many people.
Specifically regarding mental and emotional well-being, I read that gardening “is considered a serene occupation, an oasis of calm, a grounding experience. The combination of the fresh air and the physicality of the tasks helps oxygenate the bloodstream and energize the physical body while simultaneously releasing endorphins involved with stress alleviation. Numerous scientific studies validate the calming effect of the garden by showing findings that reveal simply being in a garden lowers blood pressure.” That certainly accords with my experience of the calming and grounding nature of being in the garden (although I admit that lately my joke is that Dave does the sowing and I do the reaping in our garden).
It has been hard for anyone to spend much time outside in the Twin Cities in recent weeks. It seemed (until the last day or so) to be raining constantly. But if you have your own garden, or access to a community garden, try to get out there once in a while. Play in the dirt, get your hands dirty. Grow flowers, herbs, vegetable. Just get out there. And enjoy.