Get Outside and Start a Garden
May is Mental Health Month, and perhaps this year more than ever, you can benefit from spending time outside and starting a garden.
According to Sue Stuart-Smith, a psychiatrist and author of The Well-Gardened Mind, Americans spend approximately 93% of their time indoors or in a vehicle. Meanwhile, just outside your front door lies a whole world of benefits. For example, a Danish study found that 10 weeks of gardening was equivalent to 10 weeks of behavioral therapy. In addition, vitamin D from the sun and a bacteria in the soil known as mycobacterium vaccae that can be inhaled by simply working in the dirt can boost serotonin levels to improve cognitive function and memory.
“[Planting is] a time bomb of hope,” Stuart-Smith told author Horatio Clare in an article for the Financial Times.
To get started with a garden, professional gardener Joe Lamp’l recommended these six steps to Psychology Today.
1. Just start.
“The worst that’ll happen is you’ll learn something.”
2. Start slow.
“Get started but don’t overdo it.”
3. Focus on healthy soil.
Compost is the “single best thing you can add to the soil because there’s so much in it.”
4. Grow what you like.
“The reward will be motivation to stick with it.”
5. Know your plants’ needs.
“Learn something about the plant before you stick it in the ground.”
6. Pay attention to your plants.
“Spend at least a little time in your garden every day.”