Category: Mission-fulfillment

Gardening Is My Mental Health Therapy

By Reginia Dodson | UAB Community Health and Human Services Intern

Photo by Alexander Grey on Pexels.com

I planted a vegetable garden. At the time, I had no idea that it would prove to be therapeutic for me. It is only a small, raised bed garden that I somehow have planted to an overflowing capacity. This makes for a battle to keep my squash, zucchini, and eggplant from taking over the entire little box. Along with these aggressive space invaders, I planted tomatoes, okra, and cabbage as well. I even think that it is quite possible that I created an entirely new vegetable due to the overcrowding and plants mixing together. OK, I am joking, but still…there is joy in planting this garden.

When I began gardening, I did not realize that it would become my place and time to disengage from all the stressors in my life. Each day as I tackle the invaders growing and the natural intruders, I find myself relaxing and calming my anxieties. It is something to feel the cool soil as I dig around with my bare hands. I feel a connection with nature each day that I am in my garden.

I am not the only one who feels this way. Rooftop gardening, yes…on the roof, has been associated with better personal development and suggested enhanced physical and emotional well-being, sense of purpose, social inclusion, interpersonal relations, and quality of life (Triguero-Mas et al, 2020). What happens on the roof, happens on ground as well. I am always in my garden early in the morning before the world around me awakens. It is so serene and peaceful. I find even my breathing is more relaxed and the time helps to prepare me for the stressors I will encounter during the day. Furthermore, there are times that my family and friends get to enjoy the garden as we come together, supporting my happy pursuits with some good work and fun. Not to mention, good food afterwards.

It is also delightful to find what has grown seemingly overnight. I see it as a life metaphor, patiently waiting to see the work of my hands and nature come together to bring life into the world. I laugh at times because I never saw myself gardening. Especially, using my bare hands while doing so…oh the dirt and grime. So what about you? Do you have a garden? Are you good with plants? Do you find peace and delight working with nature? Leave your comments below.

References

Suggested citation for this article: Triguero-Mas M, Anguelovski I, Cirac-Claveras J, Connolly J, Vazquez A, Urgell-Plaza F, et al. Quality of Life Benefits of Urban Rooftop Gardening for People With Intellectual Disabilities or Mental Health Disorders. Prev Chronic Dis 2020;17:200087. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd17.200087external icon

Journaling Can Benefit Your Mental Health

By Tan Walker | UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

When you think of “journaling”, it is easy to picture a young girl locked away in her room writing about her high-school crush in a diary with a lock on it. Although this is an easy perception to have, it likely matches with the overall consensus for adults: journaling is for young people still trying to figure out their purpose in life and gossiping about the latest high school drama.

Believe it or not, many adults own a journal of some sort. Whether it’s a diary, a 3 subject notebook, notes taken on a smartphone, or just a plain sheet of paper and a pen: journaling has no required format. Journaling only requires that you share your thoughts openly. Effective journaling can help you meet your goals or improve your quality of life (Ackerman, 2022; Purcell, 2006). Although personal goals vary from person to person, they are almost always positive and journaling can be a process that support goal accomplishment.

Effective journaling can help you clear your head, reduce anxiety, and it can also help you connect your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and behaviors. But how exactly does dumping words on a page have an impact on your mental health?

Well, journaling has been proven to help people struggling with a mental illness or people who want to improve their mental health (Ackerman, 2022; Purcell, 2006). More specifically, effective journaling has been found to:

Boost your mood
Enhance your sense of well-being
Reduce symptoms of depression
Reduce symptoms of trauma and PTSD
Improve your work memory

Here are some following tips to ensure your journaling is effective:

Write in a space free of distractions
Journal at least once a day
Keep your journal private -“my eyes only”
Be in control of the topic and structure of your writing

Try journaling today! The process may take some time, but the benefits can support your health and quality of life. It can be fun! Whether you choose to write about how your day went or your current thoughts and emotions, the fun part is that you get to choose what your narrative will be!

Courtney E. Ackerman, M. A. (2022, September 8). 83 benefits of journaling for depression, anxiety, and stress. PositivePsychology.com. Retrieved September 8, 2022, from https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-journaling/

Purcell, M. (2006). The Health Benefits of Journaling. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 10, 2022, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-health-benefits-of-journaling/000721