I was watering my mother’s tomatoes when it hit me: wow, this feels good. I don’t know why… Could it be golden hour softening on the grass? The drops of water resting on the fruit and the roses…the little seedling of the sunflowers I planted a couple of weeks ago, starting to grow? Whatever it is. It feels good to garden, it feels good to be “in nature”.
It might sound hippy-dippy but it is what it is. Plants are beings. Therefore, connecting and taking care of them has the capacity of making us feel connected too. To other beings as well as the “outside” world. Additionally, if the plants you take care of are edible, such as herbs or veggies, there is an additional connection: eating something you yourself have helped growing, and harvested.
Plus, ok, they’re not children, but they sort of feel like children. And in all honesty, I have named my 3 indoor plants. Philibert, Michael and Geronimo…yes. Well… Must be why they call the place where you keep your plants “nursery”. Love you kiddos!
Physical activity and/or Mindfulness
I suppose the physical activity part really depends on the type of plants, the type of gardening we do, or the amount of both. Like, when I am at my mom’s I tend to the backyard roses, as well as the front yard ones, and the veggies & herbs. I do get a bit tired, I do move a bit of my booty. But, at my apartment, I only have “the kids” and Basil (ok, I named the basil, Basil, you can judge me, I’d understand). So in that case, I wouldn’t be able to say I break a sweat.
But not all exercises are physical. They can be psychological, or even spiritual.
If you want to be happy for a lifetime, be a gardener.
Between smells (hopefully not nasty ones), sensory experiences, the weather, and being awake of our movements, gardening is a beautiful way to foster “being present” and “mindful”. As well as being a beautiful way to put everything aside for a moment and just enjoy the greenery.
Horticulture not only stimulates and satisfies our biological/physical needs, promoting a sense of healing, it also satisfies our emotional/spiritual needs, developing our creativity, bringing pleasure to us and those around us. The satisfaction of both needs make us feel that we are living fully as human beings, empowering us to experience total health physically, mentally and socially.
Just Having Green Near You Might Reduce Your Stress Levels
and help you concentrate
The last years have seen a rise in scientific interest towards nature, or even just “pictures of nature”. C
an hearing the forest through Alexa at night make me relax? Well, yes. I would say so. But what does research say?
Apparently, being surrounded by nature, or looking at it (like me looking at my “children” sitting on my desk), or being exposed to scenes of greenery (like having a picture of a forest in front of you) can have amazing effects. It seems in fact to help reduce stress, negative feelings, and increase positive ones. Being exposed to nature also appears to be correlated to reduction in muscle tension, high blood pressure, and if you ask me even make you smile (wa, so cheesy!).
Nature, and especially walking in nature, seem to be also a natural anti-depressant:
And, what about the concentration part?
Well, a study seems to indicate that being exposed to micro-breaks to look at nature (real or image) seems to restore our abilities to focus, and therefore study and work “better”.
Participants who briefly viewed the green roof made significantly lower omission errors, and showed more consistent responding to the task compared to participants who viewed the concrete roof. We argue that this reflects boosts to sub-cortical arousal and cortical attention control. Our results extend attention restoration theory by providing direct experimental evidence for the benefits of micro-breaks and for city green roofs.
More specifically, eating healthier. Of course, this does not necessarily follow if you only have indoor-type plants, but more if you have a garden, or at least some form of herbs, veggie, fruit patch/plants.
I am not declaring that eating fruit and veggies is healthier than other types of diets (I do think so, but who knows knows). But I do believe that they are necessary parts of people’s nutritional needs. There, you got veggies, you eat veggies. Simple.
Oh, and of course, to go back to the title, eating better helps you fight the symptoms of depression.
From the all-mighty Harvard:
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain. Since about 95% of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract, and your gastrointestinal tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, or neurons, it makes sense that the inner workings of your digestive system don’t just help you digest food, but also guide your emotions. What’s more, the function of these neurons — and the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin — is highly influenced by the billions of “good” bacteria that make up your intestinal microbiome. These bacteria play an essential role in your health. They protect the lining of your intestines and ensure they provide a strong barrier against toxins and “bad” bacteria; they limit inflammation; they improve how well you absorb nutrients from your food; and they activate neural pathways that travel directly between the gut and the brain.
So, a take-away (see what I’ve done there?) of all this could be:
You are what you eat, and you are what you plant! (or take care of).