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Start a Garden for Mental Health Month Awareness

Looking for a way to improve your mental health and well-being? Try starting a garden. With the onset of May and mental health month awareness in full swing, there is no better time to connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors. Here’s why.

Gardening is a fantastic hobby that has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and promote relaxation.

And with mental health month awareness in full swing, there’s no better time to start planting the seeds of your own mental health and wellness.

Whether you are in a great headspace or not, there are lots of really good reasons you should dig in the dirt and start growing things.

We go through different seasons of life. And as we transition through the good times and bad, it’s really important to have something that grounds you. Something that keeps you feeling balanced and centered that reduces stress and anxiety.

Do you have that thing that you just absolutely love to do?

If you don’t, I want you to consider starting a garden and maybe reframe your thinking about it being “unpleasant work”. Because it is really so much more.

Growing a garden doesn’t have to be a big grand bed of flowers or vegetables. It can simply be one, two, or even a few plants that bring you joy and connect you more with the beauty of nature, and awakens your creativity.

And if you are in the same season of life as me, making the transition from the caregiver of children to an empty nester, and looking for what’s next?

It can be rough!

Doing something you love and enjoy is key to navigating the stress and anxiety of that journey. If you don’t know what that is and I know there are many of you that don’t, start small and try growing some plants and flowers.

It is a life-changing experience that you won’t regret, regardless of the season of life you are in.

Here’s why.

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close up of creme caramel coreopsis

10 Ways Starting a Garden Can Boost Your Mental Health This May

There is no better time than now to get started growing a garden.

It’s springtime and everything is new. The nurseries are stocked up with beautiful flowers, vegetables, and herbs. And it’s a time where we are thinking more about mental health month awareness.

Of course, you can start gardening any day, any time of the year too. But to me, spring is the most wonderful time of year because it is fun to kick around and check out all the new arrivals.

Whether you want to bring more plants and flowers into your life or not, consider ways you can weave them in so it has more purpose.

Because once you get started, trust me, you’ll keep going.

For example, if you love to cook, make a small herb garden where you can pick your own herbs. Or maybe start some raised garden beds where you can grow vegetables and edible flowers.

There are lots of ways one can make that connection with growing a garden. Here are 10 ways that starting a garden can change your life and boost mental wellness.

  • Connect with nature
  • Physical activity
  • Sense of accomplishment
  • Mindfulness practice
  • Social connection
  • Creative outlet
  • Learn new skills
  • Fresh air and sunlight
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve nutrition
garden blogger stacy ling walking through the gardens to see the flowering crabapple trees and daffodils

Mental Health Month Awareness: Why Gardening is Good for the Soul

As a self-taught gardener with over 25 years of experience, I can attest to the fact that gardening is not just a hobby, beautifying your spaces, or a way to grow your own food.

It’s an experience that can change your life, heal your soul, and fill your heart with joy.

Learning how to garden has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life, and I want to share with you why I think you should give it a try.

Particularly if you haven’t found that thing you enjoy doing just yet.

tulips, daffodils and pansies in the front porch garden

Gardening is Fun

First of all, gardening is fun! There’s nothing quite like the feeling of digging in the dirt and watching your plants grow.

Whether you’re planting a few vegetables or creating a beautiful flower garden, gardening is a creative outlet that allows you to express yourself in a way that’s both beautiful and productive.

You can experiment with different colors, textures, and plant combinations to create a space that’s uniquely yours.

But it is also a great way to reduce stress and promote relaxation. When you’re in the garden, you are surrounded by nature. It is a good break from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Gardening has been shown to lower cortisol levels, which is the hormone associated with stress. This means that spending time in the garden can help you feel calmer and more relaxed, which can improve your overall mood and well-being.

sunset in the small cottage garden in zone 6a new jersey garden
Front Yard Small Cottage Garden

Garden Therapy

Gardening requires concentration and focus, which can be a form of meditation that promotes mindfulness and relaxation.

When you’re out in the garden listening to the sound of the birds, you feel a sense of peace and tranquility that’s hard to find anywhere else.

There’s just something about being in the fresh air and sunshine that helps you forget your troubles and find inner peace.

Gardening has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, making it an excellent way to improve your mental health. It is also a great way to get through everyday stress and the difficult seasons of life.

When you’re going through a tough time, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and hopeless.

But when you’re in the garden, you’re reminded that there’s always hope and new growth around the corner.

Whether you’re planting a new seed or watching an old plant come back to life, there’s always something to look forward to in the garden. You can set small goals, achieve them, and try new things.

There were times when as a young mother with three kids, the stress from caring for a child that cried all the time was tremendous.

Finding those peaceful moments in the garden among my flowers was priceless for keeping me grounded and helping me get through those difficult days.

Gardener stacy ling Cutting zinnias - Cut flower gardening is so fun! Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling
Cut Flower Gardening For Beginners

Learning Something New

Starting a garden can be a learning experience that introduces you to new skills and knowledge, which can boost confidence and self-esteem.

if you are just starting out, you are learning a whole new hobby and way of life.

But if you are more experienced than that? You will find yourself trying new things to grow. Or learning how to do things differently.

Maybe you are working with new-to-you plants and styles of gardening. Learning from mistakes and tweaking things so you can try them again.

I’ve been gardening for over 25 years and became a master gardener and I can tell you for a fact that I am STILL learning new things today.

It is amazing to try new things, learn and grow over and over…and over again. It never gets old and is truly a rewarding experience.

snapdragons in small cottage garden by stone wall
Snapdragons by Stone Wall in the Cottage Garden

Feeling Accomplished

One of the reasons gardening is so good for mental health is that it provides a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

When you plant a seed, nurture it, and watch it grow into a beautiful plant, you’re reminded that you’re capable of creating something beautiful and meaningful.

This sense of accomplishment can boost your self-esteem and confidence, which can help alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety.

close up of sunflowers

You’ll Get Stronger and Feel More Fit

Gardening is a great form of exercise that can help reduce anxiety and depression by releasing endorphins.

From hauling plants around to lifting heavy bags of soil, you can get a good workout in the garden if you really wanted to.

Of course, there are ways to not exert yourself so much too, but gardening can be a great activity that not only reduces stress and boosts the mood, but helps you get fit and strong too.

Gorgeous cottage garden in the backyard in front of a garden shed with sedum autumn joy and wood picket fence with dahlias and zinniasin front of garden shed in backyard garden with green garden stakes topped with terra cotta clay pots - My cut flower garden in front of the shed in the backyard with a wood picket fence and sedum autumn joy - How to Save Money at the Garden Nursery
My Former Cottage Garden by the Shed

Be More Creative

Gardening is a creative outlet that allows you to express yourself through plant selection, design, and aesthetics.

I can’t tell you how much fun it is to go to the garden nursery and play around with different flowers and foliage with varying heights and textures.

Sometimes I’ll grab plants and arrange them on the cart in aesthetically pleasing ways, focusing on the shape of the flowers and the color of the foliage.

You can really get lost in it where you think about nothing else and whatever was dogging your mental health just melts away.

bright pink azalea in flower by the staddle stone and stone wall in the zen garden

Improves Overall Health

Spending time outside in the fresh air and sunlight helps combat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and improve overall mood.

But getting more fresh air and sunlight is just good for your overall health, let alone the mental aspect of it.

Just think of all that good vitamin D you are absorbing spending more time outdoors which helps the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus which is important for bone health.

Studies have also shown that vitamin D can boost your immunity and reduce cancer cell growth, help control infections and reduce inflammation.

Spending time outside in the sun can also have a positive effect on mood and mental health by increasing the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite, and sleep.

In addition to vitamin D and mood regulation, being outside in fresh air can also improve your physical health by providing your body with more oxygen. This can improve healthy lung function.

nj home and garden blogger stacy ling planting her raised garden beds with pink pansies

Connecting and Community

You’re learning to appreciate the natural cycles of life and death, and you’re cultivating a sense of gratitude for the earth and all its gifts.

There’s something truly special about being able to eat food that you’ve grown yourself or cutting the flowers that you started indoors in the middle of winter from seed, knowing that it’s healthy and nourishing for both your body and your soul.

But it’s even more than that.

Whether you’re growing vegetables in a community garden or sharing plants and tips with friends and neighbors, gardening can be a social activity that helps you feel more connected to others.

This sense of connection can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation, which are common contributors to poor mental health.

Small pond garden in the zen garden with japanese maple, sambuca nigra elderberry and blooming azaleas and rhododendrons with garden statue
Zen Garden with Koi Pond

You Don’t Need a Big Garden to Get Started

One of the great things about gardening is that you can grow a garden in any size or space. Even if you don’t have a yard, you can still grow plants in containers or window boxes.

If you live in an apartment, you can create a small balcony garden or grow herbs on your kitchen windowsill.

No matter where you live or how much space you have, there’s a way to incorporate gardening into your life.

All you need is the interest and desire to begin.

close up of swallowtail butterfly on blazing star

Start Gardening for Mental Health Month Awareness

Learning how to garden is an experience that can change your life for the better. It’s fun, therapeutic, and really good for the soul.

If you’re looking for a way to connect with nature, improve your mental health, and find some inner peace, I encourage you to give gardening a try.

You don’t need any special skills or equipment to get started, just a willingness to get your hands dirty and a desire to try something new.

So what are you waiting for? Dig in!

Dahlia 'Tropical' is great for the cut flower garden
Dahlia ‘Tropical’

Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk

In July 2007, I lost one of my lifelong best friends to suicide. We grew up together. Got married together. Raised our kids together.

It was devastating for everyone.

Her daughter is walking 17 miles in honor of her mom on June 3, 2023, in Washington D.C. for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Net proceeds will help those affected by suicide and mental health conditions by supporting research, advocacy, survivor resources, education, and awareness programs.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has set a bold goal to reduce the suicide rate by 20% by the year 2025.

If you or someone you know has been affected by suicide, please consider supporting Brianna’s walk. To donate to this incredible cause, please click here.

home and garden blogger stacy ling with one of her best friends betina cardinale burke at her wedding

Shop At Homecoming

My daughter Mackenzie works at an amazing store in Chester, New Jersey, called Homecoming. It is a mental health shop offering products and activities that support mental health needs.

If you are local, drop by and check out their merch.

And if you’re not local? You can also shop here online too.

goldenrod in the cottage garden

More About Gardening for Mental Health

Have you been gardening a long time or are you just getting started? Do you find joy digging in the dirt too? I would love to know more in the comments below.

And don’t miss joining my Gardening DIY and Decorating Community on Facebook for more chatter. And follow along there and on Instagram as well. There are behind-the-scenes daily things that I share on Instagram that don’t make it to the blog. Would love to see you there too!

If you prefer to binge-watch Bricks ’n Blooms on TV, we go more in-depth with tours and posts on my YouTube channel. Would love to hang out with you there!

And… If you’re catching up on blog posts you may have missed, be sure to sign-up to get my newest posts via email to stay up to date with everything that’s happening here on the blog and more.

view of the front porch cottage garden with sugar pumpkins, sedum autumn joy, rudbeckia, celosia and snapdragons

Want to Learn More About Flower Gardening?

If you love flowers and want to grow more in your garden, here are some posts that will get you on your way.

From tucking in flowering plants that are deer-resistant or ones that attract more butterflies and hummingbirds, to shade-loving flowers like the lenten rose, these posts will get you on your way to growing a garden that will bring joy for years to come.

Here are more cut flower and cottage garden growing tips, tricks, and design inspiration.

close up of creme caramel coreopsis

Garden Supplies I Use

I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. From pruners to deer repellents, here are some of my favorites in no particular order.

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Plus, get free VIP access to my Resource Library where you’ll find insider freebies not readily available to the public.

close up of tulips in the spring garden - gardening for mental health month awareness
close up of endless summer hydrangea with blue flowers

Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

About Me

Want to learn more about me?

I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years. With a deep passion for gardening, I enjoy helping others find their inner green thumb with all things plants and flowers, as well as find ways to bring the outdoors inside their homes too.

Get the inside scoop about my background as a master gardener, education, and experience, as well as why I started blogging.

stacy ling cutting dahlias in her garden
Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling cutting zinnia flowers in her cottage garden with wood picket fence in front of garden shed

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Related Stories:

7 Reasons Why Starting a Garden is Good For You

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  1. Thank you Stacy
    You have a gorgeous home and gardenS!!!!!!!
    I started gardening when my son lost his two best friends in an auto accident. I was close to the boys and quite frankly, have never been the same. Gardening, which I had never done, became my love.
    I planted zinnias in the shade and they GREW. The Lord showed me this was the path I was to go. I moved and have a small patio and a side area. I ripped everything out and did my healing planting.
    You are so correct in time of healing, sorrow, loss, and so many things that make us think we should leave this world, reach out and receive help, don’t and can’t go it alone.

    1. Oh that’s terrible I’m so sorry to hear that. It is amazing how good gardening is for the body, mind and the soul. Zinnias are so fun to grow – they really do bring a lot of joy.

  2. Thank you for sharing this great post! I grew up helping my grandma in her vegetable garden, and while I don’t garden now, I’ve started collecting different houseplants and feeding hummingbirds. I also have been taking walks around our large yard in the country in the evenings and enjoying the singing birds and fresh air and sunshine. I remember reading one time about the benefits of actually getting your hands in the soil (although I’m not sure that applies when the soil has added chemical fertilizers). I am so very sorry about your friend, that must have been so incredibly devastating and still painful to think about. Prayers for her daughter and family🙏🏼.

    1. Thank you so much and I appreciate you sharing that Vicki! It really is good for the bod, mind, and soul. No matter how much or how little you do! xoxo

  3. This is such a great post Stacy and thank you for sharing mental health awareness here on your blog. I lost my biological dad to suicide so I know firsthand how it affects family and friends and it’s so devastating. I’m so sorry you lost your friend. I love the picture of you two. Gardening has helped me with my anxiety issues and now I don’t know what I would do without it. Hugs.

    1. Thank you kim! I had no idea about your dad! I am so sorry for your loss – it is such a horrible thing to go through. Gardening is amazing for so many reasons – we really are kindred spirits. xo

  4. Thank you for such beautiful info on mental health and gardening. I loved it! I also looked up the store “Homecoming” and loved it. Although, we live over 2 hours away, I plan to make an online purchase for my daughter and I 🙂

    Can you please recommend a fertilizer for Peony plants/bushes? Those are my favorite and I have 5 growing currently in my Garden! Thank you!

  5. Gardening is definitely my therapy too. It’s amazing how good working outside all day feels even if you are bone tired!