Feature Story, Health

Finding Joy and Peace with Gardening

How was your weekend?

Or should I say how was the last seven days? You may have noticed I haven’t been very active on the blog or Instagram the past week. I had to take a little time off for mental wellness and to care for the family.

During my break from the blog, I spent a lot of time working on our garden. It’s so surprising to me that I have taken up gardening because I was never really interested in it before. I had thought about giving it a try, but I just couldn’t get into it. Maybe it wasn’t my time to try it. I don’t know, but ever since we went to Eastern Market’s Flower Day, I have been hooked on gardening. Every day I like to go outside to our garden and admire the beautiful flowers or water the plants.

I also can’t seem to stay away from the greenhouses. I’m always going to Home Depot for more garden supplies and local greenhouses to buy new flowers. I told myself I need to slow down on the flower shopping and pace myself. It’s so hard, though! If I could, I’d buy all of the flowers in the store. But that’s not possible. I can’t wait for us to get a house so we can create an even larger garden in our front and backyard!

Back in my happy place!
I bought these pretty purple flowers for our front garden.

Gardening is very therapeutic.

Travis and I both agree gardening has been very therapeutic. I’ve been searching for more natural remedies to help with my anxiety disorder. I am happy to say I am adding gardening to my list.

For the past two weeks, I have noticed a change in my mood. When I am gardening, I feel calmer and it also gives me time to think. Or not think at all. Sometimes just falling into the rhythm of caring for the plants brings me a great sense of peace. Do you feel this way, too, when you garden?

The other day, Travis and I were working together in our flower garden and I asked him, “Why didn’t we start this years ago?” He agreed with me that gardening would have greatly benefited us in 2016. That was a very hard year for us because his mother had passed away in a very sudden and tragic way. Then two months later, I suffered a miscarriage. This, of course, happened about three months before we became pregnant with Zephaniah (5th baby).

It was a very difficult time for us with his mother’s death and the miscarriage. Although we still held it together on the outside, on the inside we were both hurting. Without our even realizing it, we had fallen into a depression. It wasn’t until a few months after giving birth to Zephaniah that I realized from the summer of 2016 until probably December 2017, I was in a funk. I was depressed.

I bought a few “Georgia Peach Pie” flowers for our front porch. They are very tall and so pretty!

You know what made me realize I was depressed?

Doing the laundry. Just a simple, routine task made me realize I had been depressed for over a year. One day, I was reorganizing our bedroom and clearing out a lot of clutter. I was in the basement loading the washer machine and I thought to myself, Wow! I have accomplished a lot of cleaning tasks.

I felt so refreshed because I had completed so much cleaning and organizing. I asked myself, Why does this feel so good? Just tackling several loads of laundry made me feel like a great weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. That’s when it hit me I had been depressed. This realization helped me put all of the pieces together. It explained why my energy had been low or why my anxiety was high. I just couldn’t believe I didn’t see it before.

Of course, Travis’ job loss in September 2017 didn’t help matters. That definitely hurt us emotionally, as well as financially. Yet, the experience has made us stronger individually and as a family. Engaging in positive activities like gardening helps both Travis and I find joy and peace in life.

Gardening can help those who have an anxiety disorder.

Yesterday, I was researching horticultural therapy and I stumbled upon an article by Sarah Rayner (“Petal Power: Why Is Gardening So Good for Our Mental Health?”) The article was featured in Psychology Today, and Rayner shares 10 ways horticulture helps you heal, overcome anxiety, and lift your low mood.

1. You feel a sense of responsibility when you care for plants.

2. “Gardening allows us all to be nurturers.”

3. Gardening connects us to other living things. (This tip is one of my favorites. Sarah says gardening is a “gentle reminder to us that we are not the centre of the universe.”

4. You can relax and let go when you are gardening. (Amen!)

5. “Working in nature releases happy hormones.”

6. “Being amongst plants and flowers reminds us to live in the present moment.” (YES!! Sarah says, “when we let go of ruminating on the past or worrying about the future and instead focus on the here and now, anxiety lessens.” I feel that!)

7. “Gardening reminds us of the cycle of life, and thus come to terms with that most universal of anxieties: death.” (This one is hard for me. I’m still working on it. I even find myself feeling sad when a plant is dying.)

8. “Some aspects of gardening allow us to vent anger and aggression.”

9. Gardening helps you gain a sense of control because anxiety makes you feel overwhelmed and as if you are losing control.

10. “Gardening is easy.” In her article, Sarah says you don’t need a big garden to enjoy horticulture. “Just one hanging basket or few pots along a window ledge can lift the spirits whenever you look at them.”

I must say, I really connected with the points Sarah listed in her article. Do you feel the same way? Which point really sticks out to you? Finding a connection to other living things, feeling happiness, and living in the present moment are three points that have really resonated with me. You can read more of Sarah Rayner’s article here if you’d like to know more of her thoughts on this topic.

I’m so grateful I picked up gardening as a new hobby. It is doing wonders for my anxiety. I’ll share photos of my garden once we have everything in order. I can’t wait to show you our beautiful flower garden!

Hope you have a blessed week!

Jennifer xoxo 

 

Do you find gardening therapeutic?

 

 

What are your thoughts?