GARDENING MAKES US HAPPY!
I open my eyes on garden mornings and start to plan my day. I realize “gardening makes me happy!” I look forward to getting my hands in dirt, pulling weeds & fixing drip lines. In place of my usual citrusy Calvin Klein scent, I now spray on “Off Bug Spray” and SPF 50 Sunscreen. Who knew? Turns out, my brain knew all along. I am “hard wired” for gardens.
I grew up on a Cotton farm in Arizona. In addition to cotton we grew watermelons, cantaloupe, tomatoes, pomegranates and much more. I did not fully understand the importance of farming and being out in nature until much later. But my subconscious knew all along.
Aside from tending houseplants and flowers in pots on the patio, I have not had a garden in over 20 years. Turns out, any kind of plants and natural greenery is good for the mind, body and soul. Research has shown that after only 7 minutes of being around or looking at trees, flowers, plants, your blood pressure drops by up to 10 points. Plant lovers are more optimistic – looking at the world through rose colored glasses – really does work! Who doesn’t want lower levels of stress, less anxiety and a more cheerful disposition? Sign me up.
Working/planting in a community garden has helped my overall health and well-being in so many ways. “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow, “said Aubrey Hepburn and she was spot on. The benefits of gardening far outweigh any negatives. Getting your hands in the soil is therapeutic and also burns more calories than you think. 30 minutes of gardening burns around 170 calories – as much as 30 minutes of shooting basketball. And time flies when you are out in the garden working, thinking, dreaming and planning for the future. I look forward to my time in the garden. I am drawn to it.
The repetitive nature of gardening (water, pull weeds, prune) sparks neural connections in the brain that enhance creativity. And nurturing a seed from a sprout to a plant bolsters brain areas that deal with learning, attention and memory. So the more you garden, the sharper your mind will stay. Daily gardeners can slash their dementia risk by 35 percent. (Texas A&M University Charles P. Hall PhD)
When it comes to relationships, gardening is a big plus. Being near plants is like a “social outlet” for your psyche. Research shows that gardeners can be more compassionate towards family, friends and even strangers. When we are able to build better and stronger social bonds our happiness meter goes way up. This is huge! Something as organic and available as gardening should be on everyone’s radar. After all, gardening is truly in all of our DNA—we were born attracted to plants and greenery—so why not embrace it?
Get your hands dirty, lower your stress levels, boost your mood, stave off dementia and become a better friend by stepping out into a garden. Happiness doesn’t have to be some far off goal – it can be as close as planting some tulips. May your garden wherever it may grow bring you the happiness it brings me.
By: Sharon Boyd