It’s January, and here in the United States that means the days are starting to get a little bit longer with each passing day as we march towards the growing season, which is great news for those of us who garden. It shouldn’t be long now before we can get out in the garden and start sowing seeds in the soil, but we still have to get through the rest of winter, and although February is the shortest month on the calendar, it seems to take the longest to get through, holding onto Old Man Winter as if they were long lost cousins.
Winter can be an unusually difficult time for some folks to get through, especially those who suffer from depression, anxiety, and/or seasonal affective disorder, also known as “cabin fever.” These mental conditions cause those suffering from them to feel anxious, lost, confused, angry, and isolated. It some of the most intense cases, it can also result in clinical depression, which can be very detrimental to one’s physical health as well. Although there are several methods for managing these episodes, such as therapy, counseling, prescription medications, and self-help/DIY projects, one option that is gaining momentum as a means of managing these troubling times is gardening. Several people who suffer from the symptoms listed here, have found that gardening helps them focus their thoughts and energy on productive means.
Several recent studies and reports indicate that gardening can be beneficial to maintaining mental health, especially those who suffer from winter doldrums. Gardening embodies a good bit of the same advice given by therapists to combat the effects of these conditions; get more exercise, get outside more and participate in natural settings, engage in productive activities, get in touch with your creativity, and find people with similar interests, all of which apply to gardening as well. If you’ve tried all of the traditional methods of managing winter related mental health conditions, without positive results or experiences, then maybe gardening will provide the medium for helping you get through these troubling times.
Studies have shown that gardening reduces episodes of anxiety, while stimulating the person’s mood in an uplifting manner. There are several methods of getting involved in gardening, and all of them should be able to help improve the mental condition of those who suffer from these symptoms; vertical gardening, container gardening, hydroponics, aquaponics, indoor gardening and greenhouses. If you are having difficulty getting through the winter season, then take a few minutes to do a little research on the subject of gardening, with regards to the type that will work for you, and get involved with getting dirty while getting a garden going.
Now is the perfect time to consider growing a garden; spring is just around the corner and if you have never cultivated crops before, you will want to get a head start. The best way to do that is to begin the research process now. Find out what the outdoor growing season is for the region you live in; some may be able to begin growing outdoors as early as March, whereas others may not be able to sow seeds until the end of April, beginning of May. Determine what types of crops grow best in your region; some of us will have better luck growing corn than we will growing cabbage, and vice versa. Start researching what the soil conditions are on your property, figure out if you will need to neutralize the soil this spring, and put together a battle plan for installing the garden when the weather gets right.
While prescription medications may be able to alleviate the symptoms associated with these mental health conditions, they may also possess harmful side effects, whereas gardening does not contain harmful side effects, as long as you do not integrate pesticides and herbicides into your program. In addition to improving the mental state of the individual, gardening has the potential to improve the overall health of the person; it is no secret that homegrown food is healthier than purchases made from a grocery store that is part of the industrial food chain.
Once you’ve tried gardening, and allowed it to mend your troubled mind, you will look forward to every growing opportunity, in both indoor and outdoor settings. If you find that it works as well for you as it has for others, then consider building a greenhouse before next winter hits; this will make it easier to continue growing crops throughout the colder months, and they are very cost effective to build if you are a DIY enthusiast with basic construction skills. If you suffer from any of these seasonal symptoms, give gardening a try, you will not be disappointed!