(Written spring 2020) You know that feeling. That glorious feeling of running your hands through the dirt. Feeling the earth connect with your body. Nature and you. Happiness and peace of mind overtake you as you shake off the cares and strife.
It’s not just connecting with nature gardening gives you. It is the feeling of pure creation. Planting a living entity, aiding its birth, caring for it as it grows to maturity, watching it grow into a thing of beauty. Creating a life force.
Let’s not forget the sweat equity. Gardening is a way to get your exercise the fun way. Your garden workout aids in creating endorphins, our “feel-good” chemicals that assist in stress relief.
One aspect of taking care of yourself during the Covid crisis that is often ignored by the media is your own emotional health. When fighting an enormous physical enemy like this deadly virus, too often tending to your state of mind gets pushed aside. It is vitally important that you take positive steps to keep your mind as healthy as your body.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest you “take breaks” and “make time to unwind.” The World Health Organization goes further in their advice on coping with Covid stress: “Draw on skills you have used in the past that have helped you to manage previous life’s adversities and use those skills to help you manage your emotions during the challenging time of this outbreak.”
Gardeners know there’s no better way to rejuvenate their mind and spirit than engaging in their favorite pastime. The next best thing to the act of planting is planning and selecting the plants you want. The Arboretum’s Spring Affair plant sale, this year an online sale rather than an event, will give you that opportunity. Give yourself permission to escape for a few hours and start planning a landscape that will get you outdoors and invigorated all year long. Visit https://arboretumplants.org/ to start dreaming and planning.
Relieving stress by connecting with nature, creating a beautiful landscape and exercising are some of the wonderful ways gardening helps you confront the unsettledness of the Covid crisis we’re going through now. Take advantage of your love of gardening to help you through the months ahead. It’s a wonderful ally in restoring hope and joy.
Monica Nelson, Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, plantnebraska.org