If you feel depressed or under pressure, you should never think that you’re alone. Close to a fifth of adults throughout the UK experience moments of depression or anxiety, research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found. More women will report that they suffer from these problems than men, the ONS goes on to state, though anyone can be at risk due to the fact that depression can be caused from overthinking situations or as a result of a major life event such as a family bereavement. However, some people can be more prone to depression than others due to certain genetic variations.
To help cope with depression, many people will use prescribed anti-depressants that act as ‘mood enhancers’. However, they don’t work for everyone. 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 why that might be the case…
Gardening keeps you busy
Take up a spot of garden from time to time and the activity will keep your mind and body busy, without becoming too tasking. 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.
Talking to Huffington Post, Harley Therapy’s clinical director and psychotherapist Dr Sheri Jacobson said: “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.
“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 be something to do with the whole family
Garden as a family and you’ll be able to socialise within a place you see as being one of your comfort zones. 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.
The friendly bacteria that is contained within soil can also boost your immune system, scientists have stated, with this process working in a similar way that anti-depressants work.
Gardening can get you around plant scented flowers
Inhale the scents released by plants like lavender and the feelings of depression or stress could be reduced, not to mention gene activity being altered, scientists in Japan claim. Aromatherapy, for example, is used as a form of alternative medicine and relies on scents such as this.
With the fragrance of jasmine said to help you sleep, this plant should be placed somewhere in your garden as well. Rosemary will be beneficial too, as it is said to improve air quality, memory function and banish anxiety.
Gardening opens up the opportunity to grow your own produce
Deciding to grow your own vegetables is something that you should strongly consider when taking up gardening. 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.
A primary cause of depression is the sense that you’re not in control. 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?
Known as the ‘pleasure chemical’, there is a likely chance of dopamine being released into the brain when you harvest your own crops. 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!
Even with all of these good points, gardening can feel like too much work for some people. 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.