We are officially into the season of spring, and I don’t know about all of you, but I feel FABULOUS! I attribute this good feeling to the Spring Equinox that occurred a few days ago. The Spring Equinox is actually that incident that happens when the Sun happens to be above the equator (or it crosses the celestial equator in the case of September equinox). When the Spring Equinox takes place, it is considered to be the official beginning of the spring season, and it later sets out the rhythm for the whole year. One of the neat things about this particular lunar celebration is that this particular day is said to have an equal length of day and night (both are about 12 hours). The name equinox actually conveys the same meaning in the Latin language as the equal day and the night.
Spring is quite possibly my favourite season, because (1) it’s a whole lot warmer than winter is, (2) no more need for big, bulky jackets and mittens, and (3) it’s that time of year when everything starts coming back to life! Gardening season is by far the best time of the year and without my green growing friends in my garden, I doubt I could achieve the same amount of happiness that I do.
Science has actually proven that having even a small growing space on your property can have huge benefits for your mood, mentality and overall health – studies show that gardening provides a real emotional and psychological boost.
There are a few reasons why this is true:
- One of the biggest reasons why gardening can help improve your mood is because of the exposure that you get to sunshine when you are outside working in the garden. Certainly make sure that you are well-protected from ultraviolet radiation (UVA and UVB rays), but you still want to make sure that you are exposed to them for a short time because they help your body naturally produce vitamin D. Vitamin D has several important functions in the body, such as regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and facilitating normal immune system function. Getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D is also important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance against certain diseases
- Some studies have shown an association between depleted vitamin D and certain mood disorders, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is because the light itself (as well as the vitamin D that it contains) triggers a positive and mood-boosting response in the brain. Gardening for only 30 minutes can cause lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone) than people who choose to stay indoor
- Gardening itself requires a range of skills, such as problem-solving, dexterity and sensory awareness. This all makes your brain work harder, which can cause a lower risk of developing dementia than in people who do not engage in something like gardening
- It’s a great workout! You have to dig, lift, move piles of dirt and plants… all of these things can really get your heart rate going!
- Engaging in a low-impact activity such as gardening can help you achieve the target set by the American Heart Association of at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week
- It gives you exposure to beneficial bacteria
- Not all bacteria are bad! Some (like a strain called Mycobacterium vaccae, which is commonly found in gardens) actually do good for your body. Your body absorbs this type of bacteria through inhalation or by eating vegetables, and it does your body good – it has been found to help alleviate symptoms of asthma, psoriasis and even allergies
- Added bonus: it helps to increase the amount of serotonin in your system
So get out there and get your hands dirty! But what if you don’t have a garden, or even a yard? This is very common in this day and age, when properties are being made to be smaller and smaller. Fear not! Even maintaining a window box with some salad greens (using self-seeding varieties will give you vegetables all season long) or a flower pot with some daisies in it can still have the same mood-enhancing effects as tending to a whole garden in the ground.
The thing that I think helps us create this connection is the reconnecting with nature that we experience when we get to be elbow-deep in the ground. It brings us back to our roots. Then when things start to grow, we feel a sense of pride in what we have accomplished. It’s amazing!
So my challenge for you this season is to get out there and grow something! No matter how big your growing space is, no matter if it is in the ground or on a balcony, no matter what you grow – just do it. Have a happy spring!
Written by Veronika for Motivational Moments