There aren’t many ways we can get outside right now, but if you have a patch of soil and a pair of gloves, you’re halfway to safely enjoying some fresh air! Even if you’re a city dweller or have never even thought about dabbling in gardening, maybe now’s the time; from increased serotonin levels and mindfulness practice to a drop in screen time, gardening -- even something as simple as keeping a potted plant alive for more than a week -- has some major de-stressing benefits.
At its simplest, gardening is a way to remove yourself from the humdrum activities of your quarantine lifestyle: bingeing another Netflix show, getting sucked into a video game, staring at your laptop and all the work you need to get done this week. Removing yourself from screens is more anxiety-reducing than you think; there’s a reason why "screen time" is so taboo among parents. Giving your eyes -- and brain -- a break from any and all screens, and instead spending time outdoors in a low-intensity setting, can give you a much-needed break to focus on your mindfulness. Without distractions and just the plants and your breathing to guide you along, you can combat a lot of stress.
And doesn’t gardening usually mean you’re out in the sun? Something as simple as soaking in some vitamin D, which builds strong bones and keeps your heart healthy, has significant effects on our moods, since sunlight is thought to release tons of serotonin (you know, the "happy" hormone) in our brains.
We’ve talked before about how plants can improve things like your ability to focus and overall positivity of your environment, so why not create that atmosphere for yourself? Just being surrounded by nature improves your mood and calms you down, but when you’ve built it on your own, for you to enjoy, it makes the result that much sweeter. Just like cooking and baking gives you a sense of satisfaction and pride in yourself, basking in a garden of your own making can give you a much-needed confidence boost.
It’s a way to express your creativity, as well, which can reduce your cortisol (the body’s panic button) levels. You start with a barren space, and soon enough it’s bursting with color and life in a design that you chose. Pretty heartening!
Figure out your space constraints. If you’re in a small apartment, see if you can finesse a way to build an indoor garden or perhaps utilize a window box. If your yard is pretty structured, find some room for your new hobby. Maybe you just want to decorate your porch with a number of potted plants. Decide how much area you have to work with and also how much effort you’re committed to putting in.
Gloves, kneeling pad, sunhat, none of the above -- it doesn’t quite matter what materials you have on hand, so long as you dive in and get excited about what you’re doing. However, if you are keen on investing in gardening tools to get the most out of your new hobby, hit up Amazon.
What you don’t need is distractions. No conference calling from the yard; no iPad propped up with the latest season of "Ozark" playing in the background. No need to listen to the laugh reel on "Seinfeld" -- listen to birds chirping or how the breeze rustles the trees. The point is to spend time with yourself and find some sort of peace and quiet.
If you’re not able to find any kind of plants or seeds at a physical store right now, never fear! Look into online retailers like Burpee, ProFlowers, New Garden Plants and Rare Seeds that will ship seeds, soil and the like right to your home.