How to Harness the Healing Power of Plants: A Guide to Gardening for Mental Health

Many people enjoy gardening and watching their efforts pay off in multitudes of fruits and flowers. Its benefits are well-documented, which is why individuals turn to it to boost their overall well-being.

Caring for plants can do wonders for physical and mental health. The healing capability of gardening can help you cope with stress and build confidence in your skills.

Gardening is a great hobby to help you unwind and better connect with yourself and the Earth. Here’s how to make it work for you and reap the many benefits you will sow.

Reap Gardening’s Mental Health Benefits

Gardening is an effective way to maintain good mental health. Hospitals have used therapeutic gardens for thousands of years because of their many benefits.

Looking at a garden exposes people to greenery and sunlight, which can improve overall mood and reduce stress. Growing plants boosts self-esteem as people see concrete results of their work. In addition, learning a new skill sharpens the mind and helps increase confidence.

Mental Health Gardening Tips

Ready to start growing? Here are some tips to help you utilize the healing benefits of gardening for your mental health.

Start Small

People starting a new hobby often want to jump right in. However, the thought of starting a huge project can also bring stress. If you’re already struggling with your mental health, you might find taking on a new activity challenging.

It’s best to start small when gardening for your mental health. Consider your budget, time and how much energy you can put into daily activities.

Start by choosing a small area to work on. Pick a small corner of your backyard to start your hobby. If you’re in an apartment, you can kick things off with a few indoor plants or herbs you can realistically take care of.

Once you start getting the hang of it, you can slowly expand your garden and bask in the happiness of seeing your plants flourish.

Plan and Set Expectations

You’ll likely have plants in mind that you want to grow. You may want a nice flowerbed or to harvest carrots. However, plants have different needs, and many can only be cultivated in certain conditions.

You might get discouraged and abandon the hobby early on if your garden doesn’t flourish immediately. Your mood might also be affected as you stress about your plants.

You must do your research first. What sort of plants grow best in your climate? What can be easily cultivated at home? What will you need to raise the crops in your garden?

Answering these questions will help you take on this hobby with a more realistic mindset. You can avoid many early disappointments, which can lead to self-defeating thoughts. 

Set Aside Time

One of the most important things about gardening and self-care is consistency. If you want to garden to improve your mental well-being, you must work it into your daily schedule. Research the needs of your plants and set aside a few minutes each day to tend to them. 

Then, schedule time weekly for more intensive gardening, like repotting, pruning or trimming. You should also fertilize your plants regularly with a mix of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to ensure they bloom or create fruit.

Incorporating gardening into your schedule seamlessly will help you enjoy consistent health benefits.

Practice Mindfulness

There’s something healing about being surrounded by nature while doing something productive. Gardening is the perfect time to integrate some meditation throughout your day. 

Start practicing mindfulness while you garden. Keep your mind in the present and pay attention to your senses. Focus on everything you’re experiencing in the moment — feel the warm sun on your skin and listen to the sound of water cascading down leaves.

Breathe and relax as you focus on the now. Even if your mind wanders, keep your meditation time free of judgment. It’s OK for your mind to go elsewhere. Accepting yourself is also part of mindfulness. 

Talk to Your Plants

You may have heard of people talking to their plants to help them grow. 

Many studies show increased plant growth when they are exposed to speech or music. However, experts haven’t yet established a direct link here, though they have their guesses. The closest answer is that the vibrations from people’s voices help plants flourish.

Set aside time to talk to your leafy friends. While watering them, speak to them like they are your buddies.

Another thing you can do is to speak affirmations to your plants and connect them to yourself. For instance, you can say, “You will grow well, and so will I.”

Share the Joy

Gardening can also be a fun group activity. Although it’s a meditative and calming experience, you can also make it joyful and collaborative.

Invite friends and family occasionally to help you raise your plants. You can also join or help organize a community garden. Working with like-minded people toward a common goal is a great way to feel a sense of community and socialize with others.

Gardening with friends, family and neighbors is also a great way to improve mental health. Research shows that participating in group recreational activities can reduce stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Enjoy Your Hard Work

Remember to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Seeing results can boost confidence because you successfully grew a garden with your own hands.

Now and then, look out the window and admire your work. When you wake up, take some time to stroll by your plants and take them all in.

Appreciate how much effort and consistency you put into making your garden flourish. If you’re cultivating edible crops like tomatoes and peppers, harvest them and whip up something delicious in the kitchen.

Reap the Rewards of Gardening for Mental Health

Gardening is a tried and tested activity that improves physical and mental well-being. If you’re feeling down and need something to lift your mood, gardening is the way to go. Remember to start small, build daily habits and work your way up. In time, you will see amazing results that will make all your efforts worthwhile.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

This is a collaborative post supporting our Peace In Peace Out initiative.

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