by Brenna Liebold
Although winter brings a beautiful, white ground cover, it also slowly pushes me in a restless direction when temperatures drop too low to go outside and do anything fun. White and brown, admittedly, start to look drab after enough overcast days. Placing plants in windows around the house cuts through the lack of color out there, but I feel an urge to dig into the plants.
Since becoming a homeowner, I have discovered a love of gardening I never bothered to explore before. Sitting in my patch of lemon thyme, picking weeds with bare fingers, and running my hand over the creepers to release their sweet, lemony scent induces a sense of calm. The dance-like movement of pluck-toss-breathe as I pick out the weeds takes on a mesmerizing quality of its own.
Some gardeners say they love the "peace" and "quiet" they find in their garden, but I don't hear peace or quiet at all. I hear movement of tree branches and leaves in the breeze and birdsongs from every direction. In my backyard, I strategically placed wind chimes of very specific pitches to create an idyllic, natural symphony that washes over me when I work in the dirt.
Listen to a sample of the music in my backyard, which makes something as seemingly mundane as picking weeds a complete sensory experience.
Benefits of Gardening
It turns out that studies on gardening support its reputation for easing stress, anxiety, and depression. The soil itself improves mood through the release of serotonin triggered by tiny microbes called mycobacterium vaccae. They most commonly enter the body through inhalation or cuts on your hands when you stir up the dirt. The boost in mood from these little critters lingers long after a gardening session ends and with no known negative side effects.
Natural light also plays a part in decreasing the impact of stress. Although sunlight increases the amount of serotonin in the body, it more importantly increases melatonin production and ensures its release at the perfect time for optimal sleep. A good night's sleep helps you recover from and manage stress better.
The effects of nature, in general, cannot go ignored. The great outdoors appear to set off an instinctive relaxation response. You don't need to physically go outside to benefit, either. Placing plants in your indoor environment and looking at nature pictures or videos reduce stress as well.
Bringing the Gardening Experience Indoors
Since I live in Wisconsin, the climate only offers about four to five months of decent outdoor gardening time during the year. I needed to find other ways to satisfy my gardening urges. How can you reap the benefits of gardening when you don't have access to outdoor space due to climate or living accommodations?
Go for It, and Make Today a Great Day!
With no bad time of year to start indoor gardening, head to your local gardening supply store and explore what kinds of plants they stock, price out your budget, and begin planning. The planning phase builds excitement before finally jumping into your new relaxation hobby. Don't feel pressured to create and care for an expansive indoor garden all at once, either. Bring home one plant at a time to ensure a comfortable balance between responsibility and enjoyment.
Check out these helpful resources on indoor gardening, all of which I have consulted at some point in my gardening adventures:
Plant Parenthood 101
Plant Safety for Pets
Growing Spider Plants
10 Things Nobody Tells You About Air Plants
How to Propagate Plants Even If You're a Beginner
How to Re-Plant Hens and Chicks
I'm a music therapist, dog mom, nature enthusiast, business owner, sleep and stress management coach, and research lover. My mission is to help you remove stress as a barrier to better health, greater happiness, and more meaningful connections with the people and passions that make life exciting.
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