Everybody and their dog has a handy stress relief remedy. Speaking from experience – as someone who has experienced both heightened levels of stress and sleepless nights (haven’t we all) – I remember once talking to my stress-free father, who suggested “chilling out” and “lying down in a darkened room to sleep it off”. Now, if those vague words of not-wisdom don’t rank among the world’s most pathetic tips on how to lower stress levels, I don’t know what would. Likewise, my grandmother on my mother’s side once said that if you’re having trouble sleeping, just pop the radio on and drift away to some nice music. Hmm. Methinks there’s an element of simpler people from simpler times not knowing what they’re going on about (although I’m sure every generation thinks that way).
In my search for answers, I came across gardening as a potential hobby that can turn a frown upside down and maybe even result in a homegrown handful of something healthy to eat. Both of which sound like my idea of fun. Before we get going, it’s important to mention that some gardening sprays and chemicals may come with health warnings, so you may wish to do your own research (including what illnesses roundup can cause).
Any gardener will tell you that gardening as a form of exercise is anything but gentle. From bags of soil and pathways made of concrete paving stones, to digging out flower beds and mowing the lawn, maintaining a garden that is the envy of the neighbourhood is going to work up a sweat. This is a good thing when it comes to stress, because burning off stress hormones is preferable to allowing them to linger in the system until the body removes them naturally over many hours. Stress hormones contribute to symptoms of anxiety and high blood pressure, which is why finding ways to reduce the presence of these hormones in the system should be at the top of everyone’s list of ‘things to do today’.
Boost your immune system
This takes a little lateral thinking, but a worn-down body with a weakened immune system is going to find it difficult to keep up with day to day physical and mental activities. Gardening exposes the body to microbes from the soil (and from simply breathing the outdoors air), boosting the immune system. When mixed with the exercise element of gardening, the body will be more prepared to deal with stress and avoid prolonged periods of symptoms related to anxiety.
The final point to mention is that where you choose to grow fruits and veg, your diet will benefit, further increasing your health and building your strength to deal with any stressful situations that may come your way.