The Gardener’s High: Science Reveals How Gardeners Get Their Fix

St Paul’s Rose Garden London

The gardening season is here. Why not use gardening as a healthy way to self medicate? Our society has become more and more dependent on prescription medications, including antidepressants, to keep us on an even keel.  And also to end  pain and the onset of depression that comes from living a stressful life away from nature.

Depression is now a global epidemic which is being alleviated with anti-depressants and other pharmaceuticals with lots of side effects. Instead of exercise, we’re becoming dependent on man made chemicals. There is another method to change our mood  that can work even better, but you must make a long-term commitment to it to make it work — gardening.

Aside from the natural Vitamin D that you likely think of when enjoying outdoor gardening, there are other vitamins you gain when participating in gardening activities, which can diminish your stress levels and help you live a longer, healthier life.

Vitamin D is produced by the sun and can help protect your body from certain cancers and heart disease linked to stress. But, there are other elements in the activity of outdoor gardening that can plan an important part in exposing your body to beneficial vitamins and minerals.

The exercise you get from gardening helps to increase your bone strength and provide you with a healthy immune system that’s better able to fight off diseases and chronic illnesses. Those compounds keep your immune system purring.

There are natural chemicals emitted in your brain when you’re exercising or doing something you enjoy. One of the best ways is to get your hands dirty, enjoy the outside and grow your own food. Not only does gardening trigger the production of “happy” chemicals in the brain (serotonin and dopamine). Contact with soil can also provide good bacteria that are natural reducers of depression.

Today’s world consists of obsessively “clean” living and we often forget – or never knew – how good it is for us to dig in the soil. Now, it’s known that some children’s ailments such as asthma, depression, and other mental disorders are directly caused from living excessively sterile lives. The healthy soil that nurture plants and also nurture your local environment can add many vitamins to your table and your body. The vitamin intensity of your home-grown garden is the healthiest way to get your daily vitamin doses.

One chemical-release from gardening is dopamine. When we harvest food or the beauty of flowers from our

Garden by Iona Abbey

gardens, we experience a rush of euphoria from the “happy” chemical release in the brains.

Even the smell and touch of veggies and fruit can trigger this reaction in our brains. When we harvest what we’ve created with our own hands, it gives us a sense of satisfaction that can’t be bought.

There’s nothing like the rush of adrenalin you get when you discover the first tomato on the vine or the first, juicy strawberry ripening. If you go a step further with your garden and can or freeze what you grow, you also experience it during times when you can’t garden by using it in recipes.

Surprisingly, studies have found that those people suffering from anxiety, depression and other disorders such as ADHD gain more effectiveness from gardening than they do from taking prescription medications.

Factory grown vegetable that are GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), which increase shelf life, also affect our bodies and minds in negative ways. When you grow your own organic vegetables, you can use natural methods to produce them and enjoy the benefits of organically grown food.

Be sure to keep your gardening activity “doable.” If you have time to enjoy and cultivate a large garden, it may be the best choice. Just don’t make gardening a chore that adds to your stress levels rather than reduce it.

Rewards are plentiful when you garden, but none are as wonderful as the reactions you feel from creating a living thing and then enjoying it for its beauty and its natural taste and benefits for your health. Between the sun’s healing rays and growing your own food naturally, you can receive an abundance of vitamins the natural way. Your food will taste better and your sense of well-being improves tenfold.

Japanese Garden Los Angeles

In fact, researchers have found that a person addicted to drugs feels the same reward, or “rush” that a gardener feels when enjoying all that nature provides in the activity of gardening. You can garden anywhere. You, too, can be a farmer … even in your apartment building. Urban dwellers with no access to soil, use hydroponic gardening as a way to grow fresh veggies indoors. Try a window farm. Whether you have a small patio space, a window, a community plot or actual acreage, gardening can play a huge part in your quest to prevent stress and live a healthful and bountiful life.

With all the chemicals being used in big-agro food, it’s no wonder that we’re a nation of addicts and compulsive disorders.

To find out how you can re-imagine your life into a healthy, thriving experience, contact me here – for a free coaching session.

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