“If you would be happy all your life – plant a garden”
Spring, and my garden is coming to life again. New life is emerging from the cold winter soil. There is no one miracle cure for depression but research has shown that incorporating some gardening into our day really does decrease our anxiety.
During my darkest episodes of depression, the outside felt terrifying. The garden can become a gentle stepping-stone into the outside.
Plants need us. This nurtures us just as much as we nurture them. Sunshine boosts the levels of our happy hormone, serotonin, and gentle exercise takes us out of ourselves – even just for a minute.
We are intimately connected to the rhythmic patterns of nature. In nature we feel at home, comfortable – in spite of ourselves. Spending time in the garden completes us – it nurtures us and we can nurture it. The benefit is mutual.
Gardening is ongoing. There is always more to be done and the more you do the more you want to do. Focusing on the garden distracts your mind and the better you will feel.
Here are some things you can do to go green:
1. Plant just one bulb
Soak up the feeling that you have made a difference by doing something positive – however small. I love the way gardening offers fobs of different sizes. It is easier to act your way out of negative thinking than think your way out of negative acting.
2. Try pruning
Plants are resilient – we can learn so much from them. When you feel as if you can’t achieve anything a good prune can be nicely dramatic and change the landscape – literally. We can cut them back and yet still they grow, even stronger than before.
3. Mulch the soil
You are giving something back to the earth, which will in turn give you healthier, happier flowers. I love the fact that old leaves and detritus from the winter months have a purpose. Out of something dark comes something light, just as you will emerge stronger after difficult times.
4. Garden with your children
Suffering from depression can sap you of all confidence, especially for parents. Children love the garden, and they will love spending time in the garden with you instinctively. As the wonders of the garden and the fresh air works their magic your spirits will rise.
5. Plant scented flowers
Plant scented flowers such as jasmine, clematis armandii or sweet peas where you sit or maybe by an open window. Smell triggers our memories, instantly changes our emotions, reduces stress and slows down our heart rate.
6. Change your view
If you aren’t feeling up to going outside just yet, then try moving your bed or your chair so that you can look out of the window, even just so that you can see a tree.
Unfurling a hose or filling my watering can always makes me feel calm. I love how watering the garden connects me to all my senses: the sound of the splash, the feel or the cold, and the sight of the droplets catching the evening sunlight which is my favourite time to water. And there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a sagging geranium perk up after a good soak.