Secrets in Your Garden
Feed your senses
The moment you step outside, you feel a release. It’s something you can’t explain.
As soon as you open that door, your lungs take in more air, your skin feels replenished and you feel like running through a field.
But as adults, we’d be pretty embarrassed if our neighbors saw us doing laps around the house in the middle of the day, and do we really want to run? Running in itself is a whole process. You have to mentally prepare yourself for the physical hurdles you’re about to put your body through. You have to set a goal, whether that’s to run around the block or to get through 1 mile, it’s a whole thing you didn’t sign up for.
Gardening is something you can do while still reaping the benefits of being outside and not really putting in much physical strain on your body. But hold on, a garden has its own little secrets that you don’t know about.
We hear about all the toxicity inside our homes, so we buy air filters instead of going outside. Breathing in fresh air has innumerable benefits to our health, some of which include:
- Boosting your vision
- Gaining energy
- Enhancing creativity
- Improving your immune system
Boosting your vision
Research has shown that being outside reduces the risk of developing nearsightedness, or myopia.
Studies have shown that being outside for as long as 20 minutes can give you the same energy boost as if you drank a single cup of coffee.
The reason why being in nature makes us more creative is that we are not constantly trying to attend to a million different things at once. When we’re inside, we try to use our phones, laptops, cook and do a million other different tasks at the same time. When outside, it’s usually just one or two things that we are focused on. Having fewer distractions causes less burnout, which enhances creativity.
Improving your immune system
Phytoncides are organic compounds that can be found in most plants and trees. These compounds help our bodies fight diseases. Breathing in these plant compounds increases our white blood cell counts, strengthening our immune systems. Sunlight also energizes our T cells, which help us fight different infections.
In addition to the list of benefits nature provides for us, the vegetables themselves have special uses too.
Aside from the fresh sweetness of tomatoes and beets, these smells benefit our health in many ways. Believe it or not, the really strong scented ones that we don’t particularly favor are the ones that give us the most health benefits. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts are the ones that have alliums, which are compounds that produce these strong smells.
Alliums have been shown to prevent or reduce the risk of developing certain cancers.
Now to completely take a turn, have you ever seen Ratatouille, the famous animated Pixar movie about the rat who seems to know how to cook better than you do? You know that scene where he takes a strawberry and a piece of cheese and fireworks start going off in his head, music starts playing, and he starts dancing? The same phenomenon occurs when you get down in the dirt and plant a carrot.
The smells of vegetables initiate a release of certain chemicals in our brains that make us feel good, so good we might feel like dancing. The part of our brain that detects smell has direct links to the parts of our brain that are linked to emotions and memory. That’s why when we smell a potato or a fresh tomato, we associate those smells with feeling good. As kids, we all used to play outside, whether it was in the park, in our backyard, or at recess. We all used to be outside more than we do today.
Smelling nature, the dirt, the trees, and vegetables makes us feel good now because when we felt those things as children, we felt elated.
Times were simpler. We didn’t have much to worry about. We were able to connect with nature every day and now we are, to put it bluntly, deprived.
Something like gardening can be so nurturing for the mind and body. It can give you a chance to take a mindful break and just be completely immersed in nature, which is something we oftentimes do not get to do. You can go into a sort of meditative state, where you acknowledge the vegetables, you engage your senses and notice how your body feels. You breathe in and out, taking in every bit of fresh air. You listen to the birds chirping, the sounds around you. You find yourself completely at peace in this patch of dirt. You ground yourself in nature and engage with the smells, sights, and things around you.
In summary, gardens are special little things that:
- Boost our vision, energy, creativity, and immune system
- Reduce the risk of developing cancers
- Release chemicals that make us feel good
- Ground us to nature
So put away your laptop or phone and go plant something. Notice the smells, the slight feeling of euphoria, and breathe.