The Pandemic Garden: Stress Management and Gardening During COVID

Stress caused by the overnight life changes dealt to us by COVID-19 and the subsequent stay-at-home orders has affected pretty much everyone on the globe. Though some have certainly had to deal with more stress than others, everyone has been looking for new means of stress management and gardening has become a very popular option across the United States, and abroad.

Scientifically speaking, gardening has a lot of similarities that other, and historically more popular, stress relievers also contain. If you haven’t already started a Pandemic Garden and are being overwhelmed with anxiety due to COVID-19, the time is now!

Causes of Stress

For most people, working from home has brought its share of good things into people’s lives, but nonetheless, a change in the daily routine (especially daily routines that have been pretty steady for years) naturally adds anxiety and can also lead to changes in sleep and eating patterns. If you have the ability to stick to a similar routine even with the changes, stress can be kept at bay. Waking up at the same time, dressing for an office, and even making a lunch before work starts can make the new normal feel like the old one. 

Alcohol use has been an easy and frequent way to cope with stress for many during this time, but it’s certainly not a healthy way and the issues that come with increased alcohol consumption are another animal. If you fall into this category, replacing the drinks with a hobby can solve a lot of issues related to anxiety.  

Why Gardening?

For many people who did lose their jobs, a new hobby may seem like a misuse of time, but gardening (among other things) can help save money and result in a healthier diet, both things that are important in a time where lacks of income and exercise are unfortunate norms for most people. 

There are so many boxes that gardening checks when as it relates to dealing with stress. Going outside is an often-encouraged practiced for those dealing with heightened stress, and gardening is generally an outside activity (though there are options for those who do not have access to an outdoor space). Physical activity is also recommended, and as fun as gardening is, it certainly takes some rolling up of the sleeves, especially to get started. A healthy diet is another key factor is combating stress, and nothing is healthier than fresh leafy greens and vegetables from the back yard. 

For some people, staying at home is causing a certain level of stir craziness, and though many hobbies can take the place of a will to gather, not many can be done at home like gardening. Many experts also recommend tapping into the creative brain when stress is overwhelming, and plotting a garden and growing the plants themselves are both forms of art. The simple fact that plants are living things is good for the heart and psyche too, but don’t let a failed grow add to your stress, especially if you’re a beginner. Release stress by cleaning and maintaining your garden. Watering and removing unnecessary weeds can are important parts of maintaining your garden. 

Other Ways to Help

If you don’t particularly “dig” gardening, many of the stress relief qualities that can be found by gardening can also be achieved by other means. For the outside and physical activity aspects, hiking and running both increase adrenaline and help the body to feel accomplished. Listening to peaceful music while you go about your daily tasks (including gardening!) is also a great way to increase focus and keep the causes of your stress out of your head. 

No matter your personal choices for fighting stress and anxiety, taking a look at what gardening offers those who do it can help you find your own metaphorical Pandemic Garden for keeping COVID stressors at bay and continuing with your new daily life with as much regularity as possible.