Can gardening help fight against depression?
You’re not alone if you are feeling under pressure or depressed. According to research carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), moments of anxiety or depression will be experienced by almost a fifth of UK adults. The ONS has also revealed that more women will report their problems than men, though the fact that depression can come on from a major life event, like a family bereavement, or from overthinking situations means that the issue can affect anyone. This being said, certain genetic variations can mean that some individuals will be more at risk of suffering from depression than others.
While prescribed anti-depressants will be used by many people when they are depressed — acting as ‘mood enhancers’ — these don’t work for all individuals. As an alternative solution, have you considered gardening? After all, reports have suggested that 87% of people who spend time gardening for over six hours a week feel happier. Here’s a look at four reasons why that might be the case…
It gets you around plant scented flowers
The feelings of stress and depression can drop by inhaling the scents released by plants such as lavender. On top of this, scientists in Japan claim that gene activity being altered. Aromatherapy, for example, is used as a form of alternative medicine and relies on scents such as this.
Jasmine’s fragrance is also claimed to help you sleep, so make an effort to get this plant somewhere within your garden. Rosemary will be beneficial too, as it is said to improve air quality, memory function and banish anxiety.
It allows you to grow your own produce
When you choose to making gardening a hobby, one activity that should be towards the top of you to-do list is to grow your own veg. It is believed that producing your own food can help you reconnect with our planet, its seasons and rhythms. Not only this, but tending to your crops will provide enough light exercise — at your own pace — to boost your endorphin levels.
When you feel you’re not in control, depression can be a result. With that in mind, growing your own fruit and veg can help give back some of that power. It’s also thought that folate-rich foods, such as kale and spinach, can help lift your morale. So, what better way to boost yourself than growing it yourself?
When you’re harvesting your own crops, dopamine may be released into the brain — with this often referred to as the ‘pleasure chemical’. This will, in turn, trigger a state of bliss. This release can be caused by sight, smell and actually plucking fruit, so be sure to plant as many different edible options as possible and get that dopamine flowing!
It’s an activity that can involve the entire family
Make gardening a family activity and you will have the chance to socialise somewhere that you consider a comfort zone. This is especially important when you consider that your confidence can be drained when you suffer from depression. Most kids love the garden — and spending time with you — so by creating fun tasks to improve your garden, they will instinctively have fun which will help lift your spirits.
According to scientists, soil contains various forms of friendly bacteria that work to boost your immune system too. In effect, this process will work in a similar way that anti-depressants do.
It keeps you busy
Without the requirement to becoming too much of a chore, gardening is a hobby that will help keep your mind and body busy. Tasks such as digging, mowing and planting can keep you occupied for hours on end and always thinking, while being outdoors can increase serotonin in the brain. On top of this, the relaxing ambience provided by being outside can leave you feeling rejuvenated.
“While I haven’t come across anyone claiming that gardening has single-handedly overcome their depression, as part of a wide set of tools, gardening can be beneficial in the battle against depression,” points out Dr Sheri Jacobson, Harley Therapy’s clinical director and a psychotherapist, to Huffington Post.
“Being in the outdoors in more natural surroundings can help lift our mood as it brings a sense of simplicity and tranquillity which is therapeutic for many people.”
Gardening can still seem like too much hard work for some people though, despite these advantages being spotlighted. However, with so many potential benefits, it’s clearly worth trying to get into this hobby. Remember though, you are not alone in your struggle, so be sure to talk to professionals and those closest to you if you are depressed. There are many people out there to discuss your feelings with.
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