Okay friends – it’s time I finally share a GARDENING x ANXIETY post, because these 2 topics are some of the most near and dear to my heart!
In this blog post, I’ll be answering the question “Does Gardening Help to Ease Anxiety?” To save you the suspense, I’m going to say it right off the bat – YES, gardening can absolutely help to ease anxiety! You’ll find out some of the many reasons why & how below 🙂
How Can Gardening Help to Ease Anxiety?
GARDENING IS GROUNDING:
First and foremost, it’s important to know that energetically, gardening is one of the MOST grounding activities we can possibly do! Getting your hands dirty in the soil, touching the earth, and actually being in touch with this beautiful process of life & growth, can have an incredibly grounding effect on your psyche.
This is super important as often times feelings of “ungrounded-ness” are deeply associated with anxiety. In fact, many people struggling with anxiety often report feeling out of body, depersonalized, out of touch with reality, and/or dissociated (1).
In practicing a grounding activity such as gardening, one, in a sense, can experience the feeling of “coming back to earth” or “back to body.”
In fact, a meta analysis of 22 different studies concluded that there is a significantly positive effect of gardening on health outcomes including; reduced anxiety, depression, stress, mood disturbance, and BMI, as well as increases in quality of life, sense of community, physical activity levels, and cognitive function (2).
GARDENING CAN CULTIVATE MINDFULNESS:
The act of gardening can be very meditative and can really help to cultivate feelings of mindfulness.
For example, activities like weeding, watering, thinning seedlings, and pruning require one to cultivate mindfulness for the task at hand (3).
Seeing as Mindfulness Based Therapy has been found to be an incredibly positive intervention for treating anxiety and mood problems in clinical populations (4). It makes sense that gardening, an activity deeply rooted in mindfulness, would be powerful at helping to ease anxious thoughts and feelings (3).
GARDENING EXPOSES YOU TO HEALTHY BACTERIA THAT HELP TO REGULATE YOUR MOOD:
Gardening exposes you to all sorts of different healthy bacteria that your microbiome needs to help your body produce mood regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA receptors in the brain (8).
In fact, in a healthy teaspoon of soil there are any where from 100 million to 1 billion healthy bacteria (9)! Due to this fact that soil is oh so rich in healthy bacteria, this is why it’s SO incredibly important to expose yourself to as much healthy soil as possible – and there really is no better way to do so than gardening!
A huge contributing factor to lower levels of microbiome diversity in todays day has to do with a lack of exposure to nature. To give an example, a recent study found that urbanization is linked to an overall loss of microbial diversity within the human microbiome. (5)
TIP: Don’t use gloves for maximal benefits – you can absorb so many of the healthy bacteria through your skin!
YOU GET TO EAT SOME OF THE HEALTHIEST FOOD IN THE WORLD:
As you might have seen in some of my other posts, there is certainly an intrinsic link between diet and anxiety (6). Some of the main connections between anxiety and diet have to do with vitamin & mineral deficiencies and poor gut health – both of which growing your own food can have a huge contribution to!
When you grow your own food, you get to eat some of the most nutrient dense, bio phenitically alive, microbial diverse food!
Not only this, but you help to minimize exposure to harmful toxins found in our food system such as glyphosate (the most widely used herbicide), along with other pesticides, insecticides, synthetic fertilizers, and micro-plastics (7).
So as you can see – there are numerous mechanisms in which gardening can have a hugely positive impact in helping to ease your anxiety levels!
It’s important to note, you really don’t need a huge garden to start growing food! In fact, a few patio planters, windowsill herb plants, a small raised bed, or access to a community garden can do wonders!