By Susan Ksiezopolski
In addition to arts-based activities to support our mental health, spending time in nature and specifically gardening also benefits our wellbeing. Gardens have served not only as places to grow plants, fruits, and vegetables, but also spaces for people to relax, to focus, and to connect with nature and each other. Today, gardening can provide many mental health benefits for our daily lives. Being outdoors engaged in gardening activities not only boosts our Vitamin D intake but the physical exertion involved with preparing the soil, planting seedlings and nurturing them, also is good for our bones and our heart! Studies also show that gardening helps to decrease our risk of dementia.
Other studies have also found supporting evidence that gardening is linked with reduced anxiety and depression, helps with stress management and has many other positive impacts on our health.
Being in the fresh air, listening to the sounds of nature, watching plants grow and ultimately enjoying the results of all the toil improves our mood. It has been found that a certain bacteria found in soil stimulates areas of our brain and produces serotonin which is our feel good neurotransmitter (mood lifting hormone). Mycobacterium vaccae is the substance found in soil, and has been found to mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide.
While we are tending to a garden, and watching it grown and change, brings us a sense of confidence, accomplishment and can bring us joy. Being outdoors, the fresh air, can help us to feel focused, connected to the earth and this in turn creates a sense of being grounded.
While we dig, haul dirt, plant seeds, and then harvest what we sow, our physical health, heart health, sleep and even our immune system reap the benefits. In addition to these physiological benefits, gardening also helps us to cultivate feelings of empowerment, connection and creative calm. These are all important components for our resilience,
At Joshua Creek Heritage Arts Centre, the goal is to create a nourishing and healing space, whether that be through art or through nature. The community gardens are just another extension of this vision. To inquire about obtaining your own plot, and start creatively cultivating the health benefits of gardening, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This year to support our vision of conservation and food security, on Saturday June 24th (10am to 2pm), in partnership with Oakville Green Conservation Association, we will be hosting conservation day engaging community in eco-learning, action and to help cultivate compassion for the environment which leads to conservation. Topics will include: Pollinators in the City, Rain Gardens and Stormwater Management, How to be Better Tree Stewards, Community Engagement.
To learn more and to register, visit our Conservation Day page.
The cost to register is $12 for adults and children 12 and under attend for free.