Can gardening reduce depression? As the weather improves, I see more and more people out in the garden. And usually they have a relaxed look on their face or a smile. So what do these people know that many of us have forgotten? Touching and digging in the earth and planting growing things centers the body and the mind. It is as though the energy actually flows out of mother earth into our hands and hearts. The mind is taken far from it’s worries and analysing (left brain) into creating (right brain) and the body feels as though something has been lifted from it. The mind stays in the here and now.
During my time in private practise I worked with many people who were depressed or had PTSD. One of the most helpful ways to reduce depression was for them to get out in the garden, place their hands in the earth, dig, plant and play. Try it. See what happens. Walk barefoot when you can. Nurture the plants, fertilize and water them, then watch the plants grow. Clients often said that nurturing the plants gave them permission to nurture themselves and allow themselves to grow as well.
One woman said that gardening had literally saved her life. She had felt very depressed and without purpose. As she worked in the soil and grew her own vegetables she suddenly felt her will to live return. For her it was a new beginning. That summer she regained purpose in her life. She not only grew her own garden but decided to help out in the community garden in her area and grew food for the food bank and those less fortunate than her.