The outbreak of COVID-19 is undoubtedly stressful for everyone in our community – from residents to businesses alike. Fear and anxiety about our own health, that of our loved ones, and the economic disruptions that are beyond our control can weigh heavily on our hearts and minds. Especially now, gardens are a wonderful place to spend time outside, find calm, exercise, produce food, rejuvenate our neural networks, and nourish resilience in our lives.
Managing stress is about coping skills and finding ways to unwind and de-pressurize in healthy ways. Everyone manages stress a little differently but the important part is that everyone find something they enjoy doing. Getting into the garden can get you relief.
It’s a proven therapeutic remedy. There is growing evidence that gardening reduces stress, even more so than other activities such as reading, with longer-lasting effects that include physical and mental health benefits. Getting outdoors to soak up the sunshine, fresh air, and birdsong can help your mood, giving you a chance to relax and get your mind off the overwhelming crisis news blitz, as well as other problems of the day.
Gardening is a great activity for young and the young at heart. One of the key concepts to a successful and enjoyable experience is to work smarter, not harder. Take a moment and think through how to approach tasks like bending, kneeling, and transporting tools, supplies, and, eventually, bountiful harvests!
Reflect on how to best garden for your site conditions and your life conditions. We all dream of acres of veggies, fruits and flowers, but in reality we need to consider our garden type, size and location. Research the plants that grow well in the soil we have access to plant in, the sunlight and water we can reach, and the temperatures and humidity that are part of our NC story.
Many types of gardens can provide the respite from stress we’re looking for. Raised beds, containers, hanging baskets, towers, or trellis gardens can bring sweet relief. Even if you share a garden with your community neighbors, with appropriate precautions like maintaining a safe physical distance of 6 feet from your gardening partners, and using other practices to prevent the spread of germs, getting into the garden will soothe your spirit.
For more information on gardening best practices during the pandemic, see Steps for Community Garden Managers and Gardeners at the NC State Extension Community Gardens and Therapeutic Horticulture Portals.