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Many of us feel anxious and depressed at some point in our lives. In the UK, nearly a fifth of adults experience depression or anxiety, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The data also found that women were more likely to report that they suffer from the conditions than men. Key reasons were said to be overthinking and big life events, including family bereavement. Of course, anyone can be at risk of the illness, but certain genetic variations may make some more prone to the condition than others.
Unfortunately, while anti-depressants are prescribed to help as a mood enhancer, they don’t always work. But, can gardening help us battle depression? Many believe so, with reports suggesting 87% of people who garden for more than six hours per week feel happier. But why and how is this the case? We take a look alongside grow your own and stockists of vegetable seeds, Suttons.
Garden with your family
You can find yourself drained of confidence if you suffer from depression. Gardening as a family can be a great way in which to socialise within your comfort zone. Most kids love the garden — and spending time with you — so by creating fun tasks to improve your garden, they will instinctively have fun which will help lift your spirits. Certain friendly bacteria that is found in soil can also work in a similar way to anti-depressants by boosting the immune system, according to scientists.
Grow your own produce
Have you ever thought about growing your own fruit and veg? It is believed that producing your own food can help you reconnect with our planet, its seasons and rhythms. Not only this, but tending to your crops will provide enough light exercise — at your own pace — to boost your endorphin levels.
One of the primary causes of depression is the feeling of being out of control. Growing your own fruit and veg can help give back some of that power. It’s also thought that folate-rich foods, such as kale and spinach, can help lift your morale. So, what better way to boost yourself than growing it yourself?
Harvesting our own crops is also a way to release the ‘pleasure chemical’ dopamine into your brain. This can trigger a state of bliss and this release can be caused by sight, smell and actually plucking fruit, so be sure to plant as many different edible options as possible and get that dopamine flowing!
Gardening keeps you busy
If you’re looking for a not too strenuous task, then gardening is a great way to keep your mind and body busy. Tasks such as digging, mowing and planting can keep you occupied for hours on end and always thinking, while being outdoors can increase serotonin in the brain. On top of this, the relaxing ambience provided by being outside can leave you feeling rejuvenated.
Psychotherapist and clinical director from Harley Therapy, Dr Sheri Jacobson, reiterated that the benefits of being outside can combat depression. She is quoted in Huffington Post saying: “While I haven’t come across anyone claiming that gardening has single-handedly overcome their depression, as part of a wide set of tools, gardening can be beneficial in the battle against depression.
“Being in the outdoors in more natural surroundings can help lift our mood as it brings a sense of simplicity and tranquillity which is therapeutic for many people.”
Plant scented flowers
Japanese scientists state that inhaling scents released by plants such as lavender can alter gene activity and limit feelings of stress or depression. Aromatherapy, for example, is used as a form of alternative medicine and relies on scents such as this. Other plants that are recommended for your garden include jasmine — its fragrance is supposed to help you sleep — and rosemary, which is said to improve air quality, memory function and banish anxiety.
For some, it may be a struggle to get up and do some gardening. However, with so many potential benefits, it’s clearly worth trying to get into this hobby. Remember though, you are not alone in your struggle, so be sure to talk to professionals and those closest to you if you are depressed. There are many people out there to discuss your feelings with.