What is Mental Health Month?
Founded by the Mental Health Foundation Australia, Mental Health Month was created to help Australians promote better mental health and advocate for the awareness of individual's mental health.
What does gardening do for your mental health?
According to Psychology Today, several benefits can be found in gardening that can assist with your mental health. Aside from the perks of being in the fresh air, there are many elements of gardening that may surprise you with their benefits in mindfulness and good mental health.
Some have described building up a garden similar to 'building up their mental health'. Even though gardening can have its ups and downs, mishaps and mistakes, all areas can be related to the elements of life we may experience.
Have you ever heard of the term 'grounding' or wanting to 'stay grounded'? These terms mean to stay connected to your core of who you truly are and remain calm amongst the chaos. When we garden and get our hands dirty, we form a relationship, which brings us back to Earth. You may have also heard of terms like 'plant parent' or 'nursery' as other ways of expressing the relationship and emotion between people and their plants or garden. They are often a place of pride, filled with emotion, where people have quite literally built something from the ground up.
How can you get involved?
For something that may seem simple, watering can be surprisingly therapeutic. Not to toot our own horn, but particularly when you use a Hoselink Comfort 8-Pattern Sprayer! There is just something so satisfying and calming about hand watering. Watering is one of those activities that doesn't require too much thought but just enough for you to practice mindfulness and focus on the things around you, like the smells, temperature, sounds and other grounding aspects of being outside.
Moving around your garden, balcony, courtyard or whatever outside space you have, even if it is just walking from plant to plant, is excellent exercise! While Hoselink as a brand works hard to make products easy on the body, some aspects of gardening definitely require more strength! Exercise has been shown to improve your mood, act as a stress reliever and assist in your self-esteem. It is also responsible for the release of something called endorphins. These may relieve pain and often provide feelings of euphoria. Health Direct recommends 30 minutes of exercise per day for adults. This can be much more achievable than you realise, particularly when it comes to gardening.
Release your stress
Gardening can be an excellent way to release any stress that may have been building up. Simply being outside working in the dirt can remind you of life's little pleasures and provide you with a tranquil space to work through any troubles you may be having. Whether it's harvesting, planting, watering or mulching, activity in the garden and using your hands can be highly therapeutic for your mind and stress levels.
Having dedicated time in the garden can provide an opportunity to be present. Being present is incredibly important, particularly with all the additional distractions such as social media and technology. It is also an excellent opportunity to be present with your children or loved ones. Some individuals say that their fondest memories from their childhood were spending time in the garden. Being present allows you to be educated, not only by what you're doing but also by what happens within your garden. As they say, there are no mistakes, only lessons!
Be among the green
You don't necessarily need a backyard with a large garden to be amongst nature. Many people find a windowsill garden, balcony or indoor pot plants just as good for enjoying their time spent outside. There is a Japanese theory, which means' forest bathing' in English, that beautifully translates to the benefits of being amongst nature. Studies have shown that many people in recovery or struggling with stress, anxiety or even PTSD have hugely benefited from being outdoors. Even meditating outside in your garden can help activate your senses; it also reduces the number of distractions, which can impact your ability to be present. If you have a furry friend, get them involved by taking them on daily walks in your local area, maybe to a park. This is not only great exercise for them but you too as you both enjoy all the benefits of nature.
Spend time with like-minded people
What some people don't realise is that there is a vast community to be found in gardening! Whether through a community garden, a shared garden at your property or even via a social media group. These forms of communal garden will allow you to share tips, stories and lessons, or even ask questions. Many people have made lifelong friends this way and gained insight into how gardening helps others too. Sometimes, even your next-door neighbour can provide some company and may have some experience or wisdom around gardening to share. Often finding common ground with other individuals can allow us to feel less alone.
Be OK with making mistakes
All humans are prone to error; it's how we learn! In fact, studies have shown that as people, we learn better from mistakes than we ever do from success. While it's natural to feel disheartened, mistakes can lead us to a better outcome, which only enriches the sense of achievement. You may find with gardening that you have strengths and weaknesses, and that's OK! It also allows us to practice self-discipline and responsibility when looking after life; even if it is plant life. Brush up on your skills with books or online resources, try out new techniques, or even ask a friend and trust the process of learning
Reap the rewards
Once your garden is successfully thriving and flourishing, there are so many benefits you can enjoy on your own or with loved ones! For one, if you have a veggie garden, the produce you can use to create meals will harvest special memories for life. If you have flowers or indoor greenery, they are excellent décor and make very thoughtful, creative gifts for others and yourself!
Learn to love your garden
No garden starts perfect, so be patient! Everyone who has a flourishing garden will tell you how worth the wait it is. Continue to challenge yourself even once you've found success. Being challenged is an excellent way to improve your mental health and improve how clearly you think.
If this blog has brought up anything difficult for you, there is always help available and someone who will listen. Below are some helpful mental health resources for you or someone you know who needs some extra support:
Beyond Blue: https://www.beyondblue.org.au
Black Dog Institute: https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au