Gardening vs Stress
With recent bursts of sunshine and warm weather, the outdoors has truly come alive with the sprays of blossom and spring bulbs all around us.
And whilst many of us are busy planning what to do with our gardens this year there are also many others, like me, who wouldn’t know where to start!
But did you know just how good
gardening can be for you?
For a start the sunnier weather provides us with a boost in serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters in the brain which makes us feel happier, more motivated and more confident. And when we’re more motivated it’s not just our garden that benefits – we get so many other things done too!
We also know that when we exercise we increase our heart rate and oxygen flow keeping our brains and bodies healthier. And guess what? Gardening counts as exercise! And exercise also releases another brain chemical – Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF is much easier to say!) is vital for the development of neurons as children are growing and then has a role in our adult brains enabling our brain cells to connect and work together.
There is another neurotransmitter that us hypnotherapists love to talk about and that is oxytocin – commonly known as the hug hormone. Okay, okay I know not everyone likes to hug, but we don’t have to hug to get it – just a chat with your neighbour over the garden fence could do it! Oxytocin gives us a feeling of connection with others so why not get the little people out gardening with you too? Not only will they gain some amazing life skills but it will enable both of you to experience this feeling together.
And did you know that getting dirty and handling soil (both pre-requisites of gardening) has it’s benefits too? Some research suggests that simply having contact with the soil can release hormones that act as an anti-depressant.
So that’s great news for avid gardeners – whilst you’re out digging you’re producing a cocktail of neurotransmitters in your brain!
Digging a little deeper (no pun intended!) we can see that gardening can help us fulfil many of our needs. Abraham Maslows Hierarchy of Needs theorises the things we need in order to reach our full potential – physiological needs (like food and water and rest and security); psychological needs (a sense of connection through relationships and feelings of value and accomplishment) and finally our self fulfilment needs (including creative activities and reaching our potential). Gardening certainly helps us sleep better (all that fresh air and exercise!), it can help us foster good connections with others (especially if we get involved in a community gardening scheme) and of course it allows us to let our creativity run wild too!
Of course it wouldn’t be a solution focused hypnotherapy blog if I didn’t mention my favourite thing in the world which my clients will tell you is “trance”. No, not the “grab your glow sticks” kind of trance! The trance I’m referring to is the kind when we zone out watching TV, driving the car (you know, that bit where you realise you’ve driven all the way to work and you don’t remember how you got there!), or even doing the gardening. Trance really is very ordinary and sometimes we don’t even realise we are doing it. When we’re in trance it allows our brain to process information and problem solve, stopping the stresses of the day overwhelming us, another reason why gardening is so good for us! So it’s no wonder Garden Therapy is commonly used to help people who are suffering with many illnesses including poor mental health and even cancer.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a window box or an acre of land or a house plant, if you’re young or old, abled or disabled there are plenty of ways gardening can be helping you!
So what are you waiting for? Dust off your spade and fork and go gardening! Not ready to go full throttle yet? That’s OK, just sitting in the garden listening to the sounds of nature, is also proven to enhance your mental wellbeing. So it really doesn’t matter if we don’t know where to start as long as we do!
Who knew that we could be getting therapy for free on your doorstep!
About the Author: Kathryn Johannes’ passion for making a difference to children in their early years led her to retrain as a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist after 11 years of working in the sector. “I want to support children to become the very best version of themselves so that they can flourish in whatever they choose to do”. Kathryn is based in Peterborough.
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