Now that summer has arrived, it’s the gardening season! Beyond making your backyard more beautiful, did you know that gardening has some incredible benefits for the mind?
Alexander Testa of Bradford, Ontario, is an avid gardener and knows firsthand how transformative the activity of gardening can be. Testa really enjoys taking the time to work on his vegetable garden in his backyard and growing flowers on his property. For him, working in his backyard and in his garden takes him away from the stress of work and allows him to relax and enjoy the outdoors. He shares three reasons why gardening soothes the mind.
Letting Go of Perfection
According to Alexander Testa, gardening is a great way to force your mind to relax and let go of perfection. Perfection is something that many people strive for but it’s usually unattainable. Thus, constantly striving for perfection can leave people feeling frustrated and dissatisfied. This is where gardening comes in. By nature, gardening is imperfect. It’s messy and unpredictable.
No matter how much thought you put into planning a garden, there are so many elements at work that are out of your control. For example, bugs, rodents, and inclement weather are all issues you may encounter. Gardening will help you let go of perfection and enjoy the journey. It will also help you learn how to deal with the consequences when something doesn’t go to plan and you’ll quickly realize that you have the ability to overcome any obstacle.
Attaining a Growth Mindset
Alexander Testa claims that many people, including himself, have fixed mindsets. However, gardening helped him go from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. In a growth mindset, one assumes that they are constantly learning and when something doesn’t go the way they thought, they view it as a learning opportunity rather than a failure. Developing a growth mindset is the goal and gardening can help you get there.
You are inevitably going to make mistakes as a gardener, whether you’re a seasoned professional or completely new to the hobby. But it’s how you react to these mistakes that define you. With gardening, if you want to salvage your garden, you will be required to learn what went wrong and try to fix it. In the future, you won’t make the same mistake again. This is a great lesson for life.
Although you may not always want to, taking the time to understand what went wrong and learning how you can fix it will ultimately help you in the long run. Not only will it prevent you from thinking of it as a failure, because you learned something from it, but it will also put your mind at ease knowing you can overcome problems like this.
Alexander Testa on Being Present
Mindfulness is something that is talked about a lot these days. However, few people know how to actually achieve it. Alexander Testa of Newmarket, Ontario claims that there is no activity better than gardening when it comes to focusing one’s attention on the present.
First, if you’re unconvinced as to why mindfulness is beneficial to your mental health, mindfulness has been proven to improve relationship satisfaction and result in less emotional reactivity. Like meditation, gardening is an ideal activity for someone looking to practice being in the moment, concentrating entirely on doing what they are doing.
Not only does gardening require a certain amount of focus in order to accomplish what you’re doing (planting, weeding, etc…), but there is something about being in nature that motivates you to take the time to be present. Although Alexander Testa generally enjoys listening to music or podcasts while he works or exercises, he considers gardening his sacred space, where he wants no distractions. Instead, he enjoys feeling the sun on his back and listening to the sounds of birds chirping, bees buzzing and leaves rustling.