Gardening For Our Health: Stress Relief

By Stan Griep | March 24, 2015
Image by frankoppermann
by Stan Griep
March 24, 2015

American Rose Society Certified Consulting Rosarian – Rocky Mountain District Denver Rose Society Member

“Hi there. My name is Stress. I am known as a big bully on the playground of life. Most folks will avoid me like the plague, never ever even thinking about confronting me. I pretty much have control of the playground and thoroughly enjoy that control too. I feel a bit like Superman with all the influence I have over most of life’s playgrounds. I will share one little secret with you now, and never ever mention it again. I do have a kryptonite, just like Superman. I do not like any form of gardening. Nope, not any form of it! You see, gardening helps folks take their minds off me and that is not a good thing. Without their total focus upon me, I lose some of my awesome strength. My power levels decrease and my knees wobble, becoming so shaky it is hard to stand at all!

When folks focus on working in the dirt of a small to large garden plot, or focus on containers full of choice planting soil, well, that just flat makes me sick. The next thing I know, these people are focusing on the plants that spring forth, enjoying the tasty fruits of their labors in many ways. They enjoy eating the succulent fruits and veggies produced there! How dare them! They focus their attention on the beautiful blooms those plants produce too, taking a whiff of their delightful fragrances and allowing smiles to come to their faces! Did you know all those blooms come in many wonderful colors you can nearly build a rainbow with them?!! Some folks even have the audacity to call them “bloom smiles,” even spending time taking pictures of the blooms or the beautiful foliage.

It does not stop there either, there are these things called “garden visitors” that lightly drift into these gardens, fluttering here and there. Some of these so-called garden visitors will buzz their way to the pretty bloom smiles, hovering about like miniature helicopters! With all this attention grabbing going on, it leaves me barely a small corner to stand in.”

Overcoming Stress in the Garden

In reading the above, did you actually start to feel sorry for Stress? Not me! Not even one little bit! Stress is a mean old life wrecker that beats many of us up, not just on a daily basis but every moment of every day. Stress is the helpful hand to may illnesses that haunt us this day in age and has truly been here with us every day since our birth. I don’t know about you, but I have a very stressful job. An escape is deeply needed to help me feel better.

The chemicals, in the form of pills, that are produced to help us deal with the effects of stress take hard earned money out of our pockets, make others rich and do less than desirable “fine print” things to our bodies. Then we have gardening. Gardening takes a bit of sweat from us at times. She even takes some of our time and energy. BUT, gardening does give us returns that rival the best performing stocks on the market. Yes, there can be frustrations in the garden as well. However, even the frustrations in our gardens are better for us to deal with than allowing the stresses in our lives have full power.

Winter is a tough time for this old gardener, as it takes away a good friend from me. I must watch my gardens sleep and replenish their energy for another upcoming growing season. Stress gains much ground during the winter months no matter how hard I try to find other things to do. When the weather starts to warm in my cold climate area and I am able to start doing some garden clean up though, I can feel myself starting to truly feel better. Even though the passage of time has left me with arthritis pain and other issues to deal with, doing what I can do with my gardens makes me feel better.

I have read articles here and there that speak to this same “feeling better” syndrome that gardening brings to other folks – such as microbes in the soil. It is not widely publicized though. I think there are big stress-friendly reasons for this, but that is an entirely different soap box to climb on. To me it is pretty simple folks, more time in the gardens, whatever form of gardening yours may be, spells a happier and healthier you and I. Just as it is said that the gardens grow best with the shadow of the gardener being there, we too grow best with our shadow being in the gardens.

So this season, give it a try with either a garden plot or two on your property or nice container gardens on your deck, balcony or porch. Even containers under grow lights or in your window sill will provide some fine therapy for the reduction of stress. Enjoy your gardening and every moment you can be there!

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