Tag: social

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

The Power of Healthy Friendships

By Tan Walker | UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

Sometimes being with friends is all the therapy we need! Making connections is a primary human impulse. Researchers have found that people that have healthy friendships are deemed healthier and happier than those who are friendless (CDC, 2022).

Friends are essential to our well-being and are some of the most powerful bonds people have. They can also keep us grounded and help us manage the craziness that life throws at us, and provide an abundance of social support which is vital for our mental health. Having healthy friendships is powerful and has many benefits. It can help reduce stress, loneliness, and anxiety (Serene Health, 2022).

True friends will listen to our problems and support us through hard times, but it is important that we do the same for them. Here are four tips that will help us maintain healthy friendships:

1. Make time for friends – making an effort to see friends regularly is extremely important for maintaining a friendship

2. Communicate openly and honestly – try to share any thoughts and feelings with friends, and be open to hearing theirs.

3. Respect each other’s differences – It is important to value each other’s opinions and perspectives, even if we don’t always agree with each other.

4. Be supportive – Good friends are there through the good, the bad, and the ugly. If our friends are going through something, be there to listen and to provide the support that they need.

Whenever we are down, or battling with our mental health,  it is comforting to know we have people in our lives that will be there to support us always. 

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2022). Talking to Your Love Ones. Cancer Survivors. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/survivors/healthy-living-guides/emotional-health/talking-to-loved-ones.htm

Serene Health. (2022, August 16). Friendships are essential for mental health and Wellbeing. https://serenehealth.com/mental-health-and-friendships/

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

This Little Light of Mine, I’m Going to Let it Shine: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2021

I can remember hot Sundays and weekdays sitting in the pews of hot Mississippi churches listening to my grandmothers sing:

“This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine, (Ohhh!)

I’m gonna let it shine

This little light of mine

I’m gonna let it shine

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…”

If you have never heard a deep, southern gospel group of adults or even children sing this song, well, run to YouTube quickly and find some videos or download the music at Apple, Amazon, Google, etc. The song can be an uplift, whenever you need it most. I can still hear both of my grandmother’s voices in my inner ear, singing this song among the other church choir members. At one of my home churches in Mississippi, I can hear the choir singing under the direction of my aunt playing the piano and keying up the verses. I am telling you; the church was hot with the bright sun beams coming down on both of my family churches (in different parts of the State of Mississippi), but the song was “SANG” the same. I can still hear the passion in the voices of the choir, most of them older women: mothers, grandmothers, aunties, cousins, sisters, family…instructing us in the audience to let our light shine.

Most of the church was much older than me. My grandparents’ generation lived through World War II, Jim Crow Laws of the South, and the Civil Rights struggle and gains of the 20th Century. They combatted the ugliness of racism: burned down African American owned stores, fire bombed churches, challenges to perform the guaranteed civic duty of voting, discrimination, and racial bias in the Armed Services while fighting for the United States of America, inability to get farm loans, etc. because of the color of their skin. But through it all, they “let their light shine.” By law, it was determined that they would live as second-class citizens in the South, segregated as “separate and unequal” and through it all they “let their light shine.”

It didn’t matter if you were an older adult, adult, teenager, or child…in the church, listeners were told:

“Everywhere I go

I’m gonna let it shine

Everywhere I go

I’m gonna let it shine

Everywhere I go

I’m gonna let it shine

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”

And why? Why did (do) we have to shine the light? It is true that the Bible reads, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NIV). But I tell you more practically, my grandmothers and the leaders of their generation were singing more practically. They were teaching and encouraging, saying to combat White Citizen’s Council policies, redlining, Jim Crow Laws, lynching, unlawful arrests, racial profiling, and other violations of African Americans (& People of Color) civil rights, we must let our light shine. They did GOOD when faced with EVIL, demonstrated LOVE when given HATE, and offered FORGIVENESS (not forgetfulness) when presented MEANNESS, OPPRESSION, and OFFENSE. The choir knew what the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Let’s choose to love today and every day, loving our neighbor (others) as we do ourselves (Mark 12:31, NIV). Love to all of you and thank you for your leadership Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. May we continue to let our light shine!

Choose to Be Healthy!

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as the “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being” and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.  Although other descriptions of the word “health” exist, overall most people understand what it means to be in good health or “healthy.”  Look at the following questions:

Continue reading “Choose to Be Healthy!”