Are you tired of feeling stressed? A great therapeutic and stress relieving option is to play in the dirt! According to a study by the Journal of Health Psychology, gardening helps relieve the stress hormone cortisol. Your attention fatigue can also be helped with gardening. The finite capacity for directed attention that we possess gets used up, then attention fatigue sets in, causing us to become irritable, stressed and easily distracted. This feeling is similar to those people diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
A survey by Gardeners’ World magazine said that 80% of gardeners reported being “happy” and satisfied compared to 67% of non-gardeners. The soil contains Mycobacterium vaccae and been found to mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide. It stimulates serotonin production and helps in making you happier and relaxed.
Even walking through a garden has been shown through research to decrease levels of agitation or anxiety and may also help to lessen your risk of developing dementia. Increasing exercise just by activity in the garden is beneficial because you are active. Some moderate-intensity workout examples are weeding, sowing seeds, planting transplants, mulching, hoeing, harvesting, watering and mixing growing medium.
Just think how great it would be to “take a break from stress” just by a walk in a beautiful garden. This not only helps your stress level but improves the balance. Gardeners also tend to eat more produce; another wonderful side effect of this activity.
A major upside of gardening from the research of the Journal of Aging Research is that it could have a beneficial impact on the aging process by giving people an intimate connection with life itself.
Another age group that could benefit from gardening is children in elementary schools. Enhanced academic performance and vegetable intake increase has been noted.
Sprouts are a good way to whet your appetite and they are packed with nutrition, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes that help protect against free radical damage. How about growing your own? Well, here’s a salad recipe to start you off!
Sunflower Power Salad Recipe
1 large head red cabbage, shredded
1 pound spinach
2 cups packed sunflower sprouts
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
For the Basil-Cider Vinaigrette:
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbl water
1 Tbl Dijon mustard
2 Tbl fresh basil, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- Place sunflower seeds in a rectangular glass dish and place in oven to brown about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine and mix all of the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl.
- Place the cabbage, spinach, sunflower sprouts and cilantro in a large bowl. Mix with dressing and toasted sunflower seeds.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!! Let’s all create a more healthful life through our eating habits.
–Dr Fredda Branyon