Do you think of gardening when you think of health and wellness? Probably not.
When you think of holistic health, you might think of herbs and aromatherapy and the chiropractor. You might picture yoga on a mountain top, meditation, or even acupuncture. You might think holistic health is for those crunchy self-isolated survival people because it’s kind of wacko and out there. Now, I won’t argue that some parts of holistic health may be a little strange and outside of our comfort zones, but I would ABSOLUTELY make the argument that gardening is a part of holistic health!
Holistic health holds the perspective that all parts of a human are connected – the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and social aspects of our lives all work together to comprise our being, and thus all have an impact on our health. When we look at our bodies as a whole system, rather than a symptom, we are using a holistic perspective to address health.
How is Gardening Part of Holistic Health & Wellness?
Gardening is an extremely physical pastime. Not only are you lugging dirt and compost around to fill in flower beds or vegetable gardens, but you spend a significant amount of time bent over or on your knees sowing seeds or weeding. Gardening uses every muscle in your body, sometimes ones you discover the next day from soreness! Gardening impacts your circulatory system, your muscular system, and your skeletal system and therefore has an impact on your overall health.
Vegetable, herb and flower gardening also have an impact on your physical health by producing chemical-free, whole foods. There’s nothing more satisfying than biting into a vegetable you grew yourself. Growing edible flowers is a way to expand your gardening and nutrition skills. And herbs can be useful for seasoning as well as medicinal uses. When we grow our own food, we know we are eating healthy, nutritious food that will have a positive impact on our health.
Did you know gardening can lower your stress levels? Yep. Spending time in nature lowers your cortisol levels, a primary stress hormone. Lower cortisol can lead to more even blood sugar levels. When the body is not stressed and is more balanced, feelings of peace and happiness are higher. Lower cortisol levels also lead to a more relaxed frame of mind.
Gardening can also have an impact on your emotional health. When you are surrounded by beauty, it’s hard to focus on the negative things in your life. It’s easier to shrug off depression, worry and anxiety when creating new flower beds or watching new plants break forth from the dirt and lift their tiny leaves to the sun. Gardening allows us to focus on something besides ourselves, and sometimes that focus on nature can bring us the calm and peace that we need.
I feel the closest to God when I am surrounded by nature, whether that’s walking through a forest, porch swinging and drinking coffee while I stare across hay fields, or sitting in a beautifully manicured formal garden watching a fountain’s spray. Nature reminds us that we are small beings surrounded by majesty and greatness, and it allows us the stillness and quietness we need to commune with God.
Gardening can also have an impact on our social health. We all need to connect to others, whether that’s a whole room full of people, or simply one or two. Gardening can be a shared connection that gives creativity, spark and life to a conversation between two strangers. Gardening clubs and community gardens offer opportunities to exchange ideas and suggestions as well as talk through pest and disease problems. Teaching your family how to garden can become an entire family pastime that allows us to love one another and spend time together. A love for gardening can create connection where there was none before.
Gardening is a wonderful addition to a holistic health perspective. Gardening affects all parts of our bodies in various ways, and it’s fun to spend time digging in the dirt knowing you are positively impacting your health. If you’d like more ideas and information about gardening and health, sign up below to subscribe to our bi-weekly email list. You’ll get information on gardening and nutrition tips for health and happiness as well as a monthly gardening checklist for things to do in the garden that month. You’ll also get information about new courses and an online magazine that will be launching in 2021. I’m excited about them and I know you’ll love them!