Guest author Marc Hollyer of Latton Bushcraft shares with us these great tips to help reduce some of that gardening stress that might be creeping up.
Growing plants is a popular hobby that doubles as an outstanding stress reliever. Here are a few tips on maximizing the “stress-busting” potential of gardening, or how to cultivate calmness along with the turnips and tomatoes.
1. Keep it a Hobby, Not a Chore.
Just as with golfing or yoga, some people enjoy gardening and others don’t. Even if you’re in the former group, it’s important to ask yourself whether you like it a little or a lot, and then plan the size and maintenance requirements of your garden accordingly. Be realistic about how much time and energy you have for gardening. Planting a quarter of an acre when all you really want to do is deadhead a few geraniums may lead to more stress, not less.
2. Make friends with Nature.
A garden is a place where we can slow down and reconnect with the natural world the way our ancestors did all day, every day. Research has shown that spending time in nature can help restore your attention, relax your body, and revive your mood.
3. Leave your phone inside.
Don’t let phone calls, texts, emails, and social media intrude on your gardening time. So many days are filled with multitasking from dawn to dusk. Make this a time when you have only one thing to do, and immerse yourself in the experience.
4. Be mindful of the moment.
A garden offers a feast for the senses: verdant leaves, aromatic blossoms, chirping birds, squishy earth. Make a deliberate choice to soak it all up. Be aware of what’s happening right here and now, what’s in front of your eyes and at the touch of your fingertips, rather than what’s in the memo you’ll write tomorrow. By becoming fully absorbed in the “moment-to-moment” experience, you’re practicing mindfulness, a proven way of reducing stress.
5. Repeat a Garden Mantra.
There’s this lovely cadence you can get into when weeding. Believe it or not, it is a form of meditation. The same can be said of digging, raking, mowing and many other garden activities. With the repetitive movements, try a repeated positive a mantra or prayer. Others combine it with yoga breathing exercises, “In through the nose, Out through the mouth”. Either strategy can activate “the parasympathetic nervous system,” the body system that counteracts the physiological changes brought on by stress.
6. Cultivate your Creativity.
Ask yourself… Is your garden wild and woolly, or is it precise and elegant? Does it use your signature colours? We all need to express ourselves creatively, and gardening is one way to do that. So get imaginative with a palette of plants. Research shows that engaging in a creative pastime can be an effective stress control strategy.
7. Connect with Neighbours.
Although many people savour peace and quiet while gardening, others appreciate company. If you’re working in your front garden, it’s natural for neighbours to wave hello or stop and chat about the weather. It’s an opportunity for social connectedness. For apartment and flat dwellers, tilling a plot at the local community garden can serve a similar purpose.
8. Welcome Wildlife Visitors.
You can invite birds, butterflies, and other wildlife visitors into your garden as well. If you provide a safe and friendly habitat for the birds, insects, and other animals you want to attract. You may be surprised to hear that encouraging more wildlife can keep the equilibrium with those creatures considered pests, and their presence adds another dimension to help captivate your attention and enrich your experience.
9. Revel in a job well done.
Gardening gives you a sense of accomplishment, It can lead to great satisfaction when those first blooms of spring emerge from the autumn planted bulbs you weren’t sure would grow or when the first ripe tomato is ready for picking. Share the love, take photo’s. The beauty you add to your home or the fresh food you put on your table is tangible proof of time well spent.