The current coronavirus pandemic is affecting virtually everyone in different ways and degrees. One thing is for sure, though, anxiety and fear have increased across the board. Fortunately, there is a proven treatment that is as close as the nearest door to the outside.
Studies have shown that time outdoors helps people manage their fears, anxiety, and stress. This is especially valuable during this period of social isolation and shelter-in-place rules. In fact, it would be hard to overestimate the value of time spent outdoors. Sunshine boosts vitamin D production that helps our bodies function more efficiently while the simple act of being out in the natural world increases serotonin levels, promoting calm and reducing stress.
As social distancing and isolation are beginning to wear on people, it’s heartening to see more and more of them heading outdoors for a variety of activities. On my drive home yesterday I saw people on bikes, playing lacrosse in a field, and cars parked in nature preserves. People are taking advantage of being outdoors and relaxing in ways that only happen when we’re not mired down by work and obligations. Walking down my street, I’m not only seeing kids playing outdoors but their parents outside as well.
Maranda and I are setting up our new veggie boxes for spring planting.
A beautifully designed and managed landscape can help boost the restorative effects of nature. People will be eager to spend more time outdoors more often if they truly enjoy the landscape around them - their Life-Scape. However, some homeowners are afraid to spend money on their landscape right now because they might see it as an unnecessary discretionary expense. That fear can be compounded by the additional anxiety of not knowing how to manage that landscape themselves, adding to the fear that they’re wasting both time and money.
The trick is to develop strategies to manage fear and anxiety about working in your landscape first and foremost. I’m suggesting tackling it in a focused way, starting with tasks anyone can do, such as raking and weeding. Get out into your landscape, lean into the work at hand, and don’t fret about it. As Thomas Jefferson is credited with saying, “don’t let perfect get in the way of good.” Working outside is mostly forgiving. There are resources available to help you, such as TGC Academy, where you can view helpful videos to learn new skills such as weeding like a pro. It’s all about cultivating the right mindset.
Gardening, in particular, can be a wonderful stimulant for mind and body, reducing stress and improving physical conditioning. Gardening is a full-body workout, improving upper and lower body strength while helping keep your heart healthy and your joints and muscles supple as you dig, pull, and move about. There’s also the creativity it sparks to figure out what to plant and where while thinking about color, texture, and combinations.
Getting out in the garden is so beneficial, there’s even a recognized horticultural therapy practice designed to deliver specific therapeutic or rehabilitative benefits to individuals. Horticultural therapists focus on maximizing the patient’s physical and/or psychological functioning as well as enhancing their general health and wellbeing through horticultural activities centered on working with soil and plants. In fact, horticultural therapy is so powerful, it’s used as a method for rehabilitative reform in the US prison system, where prisoners can take courses in horticulture and landscaping and train to become master gardeners. The self-control and self-regulation that it teaches are not just for prisoners – it works for anyone who wants to take more control of their lives.
Nature emerges with hopeful energy and beauty year after year.
Remember, as gardeners and landscapers – professionals and enthusiasts – we’re all in this together. If you’re a home gardening enthusiast, don’t be afraid to connect with your local landscape professional for some assistance. Rather than considering them as a scary, added expense at a time when everyone is pulling back, think of them as a valuable resource that can help you in two major ways:
Remember, most landscape companies are small and often family-run – they need your support to earn a living and provide for their families. While many industries and businesses can work from home during the current pandemic, landscapers don’t have that luxury. If you’re worried about hiring outside help because you’re concerned about protecting your own family from the coronavirus, rest assured that responsible landscaping companies such as The Garden Continuum are proactively managing safety. We’re closely following all current OSHA & CDC protocols to help keep our workers and clients safe and healthy. So let’s all get out there, get back to the earth space of your own yard, and reap all the benefits of working out in nature.