The Therapeutic Benefits of Gardening
“The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit" - Fabienne Fredrickson
The month of June brings with it the summer solstice - the longest day of the year. These long summer days mean that many of us can be found working in the garden, tending to our plants and vegetables. If you yourself identify as a gardener or ask someone who does, you are likely to experience or hear about the therapeutic benefits of gardening. Whether a sprawling space full of green growing things, or a singular potted plant on the porch, there is something (actually, there are many things) to be said about the benefits of getting your hands in the dirt and connecting with nature.
Research shows some of the benefits of spending time in nature and tending a garden include: increased feelings of peace and contentment; boosting self esteem; improvements in attention span (such as being able to focus fully on one single activity); decreased levels of depression, anxiety, and stress – just to name a few. While tending our green space this summer, we also receive the added benefit of sunshine exposing us to Vitamin D, which helps with the production of serotonin; a chemical in the brain that induces happiness.
Gardening encourages us to keep our hands and minds busy, which might be just the break from grief you have been searching for. Even still, there are many life lessons to be found in nature, including themes of slowing down, patience, dedication, nurturing, and the natural cycles of growth and death. And who could forget the ever-persistent weeds that teach us a lesson about resilience!
The quote above by Fabienne Fredrickson, “the day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit”, is not just applicable to tending your garden but also serves as an important reminder about the grief work we do when we have encountered a loss; the healing work that you do takes time to take root and bloom into comfort and peace. If you find yourself doing this difficult work, please accept this reminder that healing and finding comfort are possible, but come after tending to yourself and your grief over time. As best as you can, look for patience with yourself and with the process. Consider ways to spend time outside in nature this summer as part of your self-care practice. If you're unable to keep a garden or a plant at home, perhaps you'll be able to take in some nature within your neighborhood or take a stroll around a local nursery. Even stepping outside in the morning for a few slow, deep breaths without the distractions of technology can positively impact how you feel as you start your day and how you go about the rest of your day.