There’s something to be said for getting outside and having your face in the sunshine, and your feet and hands touch the grass and the earth. It grounds us to Mother Earth and connects us to all of her energies. Tending to our flower gardens or vegetable gardens also has so many benefits that will enrich our mental and physical health.
“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.”
— Alfred Austin
Healthy Brain and Heart
Figuring out what to plant, remembering to water the plants and tend to the garden – these are things that keep your brain healthy and active. A 2006 study found that gardening could lower risk of dementia by 36 percent. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that various physical activities—gardening among them—can cut your risk of Alzheimer’s by 50 percent.
It can fight stress and lower cortisol. Tending to your garden often helps you work up a sweat and get in some aerobic exercise, which is good for the heart. But don’t worry, you might be enjoying yourself so much that you don’t even notice.
And at the end of a stressful day, you can walk outside and enjoy the new blooms, water your garden, walk barefoot in the grass. These activities can all help relieve your anxiety and stress. All of which can have positive effects on other health issues.
Healthy Bones and Immune System
Getting exposure to the sunshine can boost your Vitamin D levels. And Vitamin D increases your calcium levels, which benefits your bones and immune system. There is also beneficial bacteria found in soil. So get a little dirt under those fingernails! It can improve your immune system, helping you get sick less and fight off infections easier
Being exposed to the outdoors is important. Dirt contains microbiomes, healthy bacteria that we all need in our lives and bodies. These bacteria can improve our moods, fight depression, and help our gut health. “When we experience problems that are associated with gut microbes, it’s often because the balance of the ecosystem is out of whack,” according to Johns Hopkins Health Review.
Gardening improves your mood and gives you a sense of satisfaction.
“I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.”
— David Hobson
I have always loved spring gardening: new vegetables and herbs, new flowers and blooms. Recently while we were out enjoying a sunny Sunday, we came across a small independent nursery. So I picked up some new things to plant on my front porch:
The flower beds and vegetable and herb garden are next.
Tips for Gardening with Chronic Pain
If you are suffering from a chronic condition like me (fibromyalgia), you may be thinking you can’t get out and do these things. It’s too painful to dig, pull weeds, kneel or bend. The sun will cause a flare.
Getting up and moving a little might be just what you need. Start small and build from there. I know I have pushed myself before, determined to get it all done at once, only to pay the price later. Here are some tips for making gardening less painful:
- An herb garden or flower pots are less demanding and strenuous than a full blown vegetable garden.
- Monitor and pace yourself, and take breaks as needed.
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
- Wear your sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. (May is Sun Cancer Awareness Month)
- Get the proper gardening tools, gloves, kneeling pad or bench. (affiliate links)
For more, read these 5 tips for gardening with fibromyalgia.
Seek Opportunities to Spend Time in Nature
You may not have a place to plant a garden where you live. Even a small container garden on a porch/patio/windowsill is a great way to get started. Other ways to connect with nature are to take a walk or visit a park and get outside and experience the joy of connecting with nature.
I wanted to get this post out in April, in honor of Earth Day, but it was a rough month for me between illnesses and fibro flares. But “better late than never” and “done is better than perfect” are mantras I have had to adopt over the years to cope with my ailments.
Do you have a garden? What is your favorite way to get outside in nature?