Backyards represent a variety of things to different people; they can be places to enjoy nature, or a place for BBQ get-togethers in the summer. And for a others, backyards represent a safe space, with the act of gardening offering therapeutic respite. With 1 in 5 Adults diagnosed with a mental health condition in the U.S. each year, having a safe space can be beneficial. Backyard gardening offers natural meditation that can be beneficial for an individual or for someone working as part of a group, if you choose to garden in a community garden. Through tilling the soil, weeding, planting and watering, you can find true solace right in your backyard.
Creating Safe Spaces Outside
A backyard can become a safe space so long as the environment promotes an ethos where people will not be judged, criticized, harassed, or subjected to discrimination. Gardening allows for people to grow and heal along with nature. Having the opportunity to watch a plant grow and thrive from your ministrations is therapeutic. Depending on your gardening experience, you can go to your local garden shop, or even sign up for subscription boxes that will supply you with the essentials to start your garden. It can be a rewarding experience that will allow you to personalize a space; here surrounded by your own plants, and nature, you have created a space for self-care, where you can meditate or do yoga in comfort.
Being a part of a community garden can also be a safe space. There are organizations that specifically deal with gardening and mental health. In such groups, not only are you growing plants together, but growing as humans. These organizations give an opportunity to build a community of people dealing with similar issues, bringing forth a space to have safe discussion about mental health while incorporating an activity such as gardening as a way to combat symptoms of mental health challenges.
Mental Health And Gardening
Studies have shown the positive benefits of gardening and mental health. From bullying and hormonal imbalances, mental health is a global issue. It can cause changes in the body and impact well-being. With depression and anxiety being a global epidemic, incorporating healthy ways to combat mental health issues is important. One way is triggering natural production of serotonin, a chemical in our brain which positively affects our emotions. Through getting your hands dirty in the garden, the soil bacteria - mycobacterium vaccae - can trigger the release of serotonin in the brain. Through harvesting, our brain produces dopamine because it is a reward for our hard work tending the garden.
Life is like a garden; weeding out experiences, choices, and people is no easy task, but you push through because this is what helps us grow. Creating a safe space in a backyard or community garden is therapy that gives back to the earth and to ourselves.