The Mental Health Power Of Petals
Anxiety can be a crippling illness and with statistics estimating that 45% of Australians will suffer from mental health issue at some point in their life, it’s far from rare. Thankfully, in recent years the stigma attached to mental health has been removed and people are finding it easier to open up about their feelings. With mental health awareness at an all time high, many activities have been suggested to help those struggling with the illness. In fact, studies have found that something as simple as gardening can be beneficial for those struggling with anxiety or depression.
Gardening allows you to connect to living things. Mental health issues can sometimes cause us to feel a disconnection from other living things, so gardening can ease that pain by helping us engage with nature and gently building up a connection to a living organism again. Watching a plant grow can be a bonding experience for a gardener struggling with depression or anxiety, the beautiful blooming of a personally nurtured flower can help to act as a metaphor for the beauty of life.
Gardening releases happy hormones. The basic combination of sunshine and gardening is – quite simply – a recipe for happiness. The gentle exercise of gardening releases endorphins, a chemical found in our body that is responsible for the feeling of pleasure. In fact, a lack of endorphins has been found to be directly linked to depression, so it makes sense that engaging in activities that are found to raise your endorphin levels will consequently, improve your mood. Sunlight has been found to increase happiness because the body’s natural response to light is to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter which helps to elevate the mood, as well as melatonin, which helps us get a good nights sleep.
For many, gardening can be an escape from a racing, over-anxious mind. The rhythmic and repetitive nature of many tasks undertaken in gardening like weeding, trimming, watering and sweeping can be very therapeutic. In fact, a study* even found that participants found gardening even more relaxing than reading a book!
Gardening helps you experience the present moment.
In recent years, mindfulness has gained a lot of attention for being hugely beneficial for mental health. Mindfulness is about being aware about what is happening inside and outside of us in the present moment; being fully focussed on the now, rather than letting our mind drift elsewhere. The peace and tranquility of gardening make it the perfect setting to practice mindfulness because the idyllic experience allows one to truly connect with the outside world and disconnect from our problems, both on both a physical and mental level.
For more information or help on mental health, see the Headspace Foundation
or Beyondblue: Support for anxiety, depression and suicide prevention