Gardening, a powerful remedy for anxiety.

To varying degrees, everybody experiences anxiety. A painful sensation caused by apprehension, it translates into a cocktail of tension, worry, and insecurity.

Although this feeling is common, it is important to make a distinction. When this condition persists and is an obstacle to the smooth running of every day, it may be a clinical case of anxiety disorder. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is far from rare: in 2017, the World Health Organization estimated that 3.6% of the world’s population suffers from anxiety disorders.

In an ultra-competitive world, the problem seems not only to persist but to take on greater proportions. We especially see it in professional circles, where the number of burnouts is increasing. Today’s fast-paced society is a reason for the phenomenon; according to the scientific community, it could explain the increase in mental and behavioral disorders, and especially anxiety, stress and depression.

On the other hand, we now know that one way to prevent anxiety disorders would be to live in a world radically opposed to our fast and frantic society. According to a Friends of the Earth report published in 2017, proximity to nature promotes self-esteem and psychological well-being. Gardening and bonding with the earth help release endorphins, the happiness hormones. All while keeping us active, this practice places us in a natural, calm and open-air environment. Maintaining a garden has many benefits for the prevention of anxiety issues. Here are five advantages and reasons to consider starting a vegetable garden at home or in the office.

1. Gardening shows us that it is impossible to control everything.

One of the first triggers of anxiety is the desire to control what cannot be controlled. In all aspects of life, there is an element of the unpredictable. However, the more we are aware of this, the more flexible we become. But we have to train our mind to accept that, and the vegetable patch is a great place for this exercise. It’s easy to see why. No matter how hard we try, we have no control over its nature and inherent unpredictability. All we can do is accept it and carry on.

2. Gardening helps ease perfectionism.

Extreme perfectionism can lead to increased anxiety and can make us give up projects where we set unrealistic goals for ourselves. Again, gardening can be therapeutic to deal with such issues. It comes back to the question of control: No matter how much we nurture the earth, there are many factors we cannot predict, from insect invasions to the weather itself. In the long run, gardening curbs this need for perfection.

3. Gardening shows us the importance of being wrong.

Thanks to the endless uncertainties of nature, gardening can turn mistakes into learning. Faced with a plant that didn’t evolve as expected, we tend to feel fascination rather than uneasiness. The concept of failure is fundamental to preventing and controlling anxiety because it shows us that we learn by making mistakes.

4. Gardening connects us to the world.

Gardening connects us not only to people, but also to the world in a more visceral way: we understand food, we understand the climate, we recognize the signs of the different seasons, we become aware of the cycles of the Earth. This notion of earthly — and cosmic — belonging allows us to face life in a lighter and less self-centered way.

5. Science says it all: Nature baths ease anxiety.

“Forest baths” originated in Japan. The positive effects of immersion in the earth on the human mind have been proven. Several studies have shown the powerful effect of connecting with nature on our emotional well-being. Used for recovery after surgery, this practice also helps reduce depression and better manage stress.

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