After one or two snows, winter becomes poisonous for me. Because gardening is my only form of exercise, winter is a time that I simply lounge around and become lethargic and get fatter. I always feel that I deserve a short vacation from any physical effort and enjoy being a couch potato until about Christmas time, but after that, I know that I am sliding down a slippery slope, and seasonal depression begins barking at my heels.
I begin the new year by trying to beat the blues with my garden planning. On both paper and my computer, I begin designing and redesigning my garden, and I pore over seed catalogs and nursery websites. I load my online cart with thousand of dollars of new plants that I know I’ll never buy, and I wait.
I fill my sunroom with plants and pretend that a room that is growing and green is enough, but it’s not. Besides that, setting a plant in a window doesn’t require much exercise from me. I need to move during winter. I need to bend over and dig. I need to cover my hands and feet with soft soil.
For me, the only anecdote for the winter doldrums is spring and getting back outside and back to work in my garden. Because of several years of hard labor, I have finally created some beautiful and meditative garden spots–places that I love to sit and look and listen to nature.
I often think about how sitting in my peaceful garden places is a Zen-like experience for me. In short, a product of my gardening effort has produced a calming place that is no doubt good for my health, but my greatest health benefit is not the beautiful spots that I have created–it is the act of creating those beautiful spots–it is the doing of–the process of gardening–that benefits me most.
The more truthful poster is the following:
I began to wonder exactly what about gardening makes me more healthy. An Internet search offered some good answers: Here
Because being in the sun increases one’s level of Vitamin D, gardening is a good, sun-friendly and Vitamin D -producting activity.
Vitamin D has multiple roles in the body, helping to:
- Maintain the health of bones and teeth
- Support the health of the immune system, brain and nervous system
- Regulate insulin levels and aid diabetes management
- Support lung function and cardiovascular health
- Influence the expression of genes involved in cancer development.
In spite of the name, vitamin D is considered a pro-hormone and not actually a vitamin. This is because the body is capable of producing its own vitamin D through the action of sunlight on the skin, while vitamins are nutrients that cannot be synthesized by the body and must be acquired through the diet or supplements. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/161618.php
Health Benefits from the Actual Garden Soil
There is another reason that gardening is good for your health. There are friendly bacteria in soil that relieve stress, make us happier and improve our immune system health.
- Soil contains a friendly bacteria that supports our immune system. Researchers at the University of Bristol and the University College of London discovered that soil contains Mycobacterium vaccae (M. vaccae) which is a friendly bacteria that supports our immune system by activating a group of neurons in the brain that produce serotonin. Serotonin regulates our mood. People with low serotonin in their brain can become depressed. Serotonin elevates mood and decreases anxiety. The researchers injected mice with M. vaccae . The cytokine levels increased in the mice. Cytokine causes the release of serotonin in the brain.
- This study proved that M vaccae may be used to treat depression. Additional studies are being conducted to explore the possibility of using M vaccae treatments for Cancer, Crohn’s Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis. http://www.healthandwellnessssa.com/how-to-relieve-stress/
Benefits of Gardening
Gardening reduces stress through exposure to nature.
- Exposure to sunlight has been shown to increase serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is responsible for keeping our brain balanced and us feeling good. Not only does sunlight increase serotonin but it also increases melatonin, which is the chemical in our brains responsible for inducing sleep.
- Fresh air is full of oxygen and it provides health to the cells in our bodies. Fresh air can help us feel more energized and even help us sleep better at night. Being outside in the fresh air promotes a sense of well-being and good mental focus.
- Nature sounds like birds singing, waterfalls, bubbling brooks, rustling trees blowing in the wind all help to bring us into balance. The sounds found in nature help us to get outside of our heads and appreciate the earth and all it has to offer. These sounds help bring us into the present moment of the here and now. http://www.sound-mind.org/gardening-reduces-stress.html#.VdaVefkza00
Gardening reduces stress through mental focus & meditation
- Through deliberate mental focus and meditating on the actions of gardening, you are taking time to set aside your problems for a while. We all know it’s healthy to take a break from our stressors and gardening provides that outlet for a lot of people.
Gardening reduces stress through personal creativity.
- When we are creative in gardening, we reap the benefits of the end result. Depending on what you are gardening will determine your reward. For example, a vegetable garden rewards us with vegetables…a flower garden rewards us with flowers…an herb garden rewards us with herbs. Whatever you sow, you will reap. This is an exciting and rewarding stress management activity.
A recent study in the Netherlands suggests that gardening can fight stress even better than other relaxing leisure activities. …
Better mental health
The effortless attention of gardening may even help improve depression symptoms.
Gardening gets you out in the fresh air and sunshine — and it also gets your blood moving…
Some research suggests that the physical activity associated with gardening can help lower the risk of developing dementia. …
The food you grow yourself is the freshest food you can eat. And because home gardens are filled with fruits and vegetables, it’s also among the healthiest food you can eat.
Not surprisingly, several studies have shown that gardeners eat more fruits and vegetables than their peers. … http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/07/08/why.gardening.good/
Thank goodness, winter has finally ended here. We had our last snow on April 9th and it took a few more weeks for the earth to thaw, and then, it rained for a couple of weeks. Finally, I have gotten back out into my garden and just as I expected, I am feeling a bit more healthy again.
This morning, I wrote a haiku poem about this time of year:
seeds dance in the wind
old sod is warmed by the sun
birds sing and wings flit
seeds dance in the wind
the earth is warm and ready
the bashful sun winks
©Jacki Kellum May 15, 2016