A few years back my brother got me a t-shirt that said “Loves to play in the dirt”. It’s so true! The act of digging, amending, planting and tending the garden has always been a joy for me. As a kid, if asked if I would rather do dishes or pull weeds you can bet that I was heading out the door in search of a weeding tool!
As an adult, the gardening bug bit me after I moved to Tehachapi 17 years ago. I had more land and made the time to devote to my garden. I feel in many ways it saved my mental health as well as enhanced my physical well being. Raising four boys can induce a fair amount of stress, and very often I would find peace and solace on the slopes and in the beds of my garden. It was a good and safe way to vent frustration, work out pent up anxiety, express creativity, and find time to say more than a few prayers.
As it turns out research backs up what I did intuitively. The gardening/mental health connection has had a fair amount of study and the research is conclusive: Gardening can greatly improve one’s mental and physical health and reduce stress (by reducing levels of cortisol, the “stress” hormone). Additional research has shown that for some people gardening may bring out greater feelings of spirituality
and help individuals cope with traumatic experiences,like the death of a loved one or a serious illness. After the death of seven treasured family members in 2005, and then the death of my beloved niece in 2007 I spent a lot of time in the garden. Somehow working with my hands helped me work through the grief.