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Gardening Helps Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Gardening can be a great way to relieve stress and anxiety.  I know most of us are feeling some level of stress as we're reading the news and seeing that most of the world is social distancing to try to stem the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).  The constant worry and fear about the virus can lead to a terrible sense of unease.  Some of the physical effects of too much worry are tension headaches, sleepless nights and higher blood pressure.  All of this is hard on our immune systems.  We want our immune systems to be strong right now, and so it seems wise to take steps to relieve stress and reduce feelings of anxiety.

To break the cycle of worry, like many families we've focused on all the positive and productive activities we can still do.  For us, that means reading, watching movies, playing music and getting outside in the fresh air.  We go for long walks with our dog.  And one pastime we've really dug into lately is working outside in the garden.  There is a sense of accomplishment to be found digging in the dirt and planting things that will grow to produce food for our family.

In many zones it's time to plant peas and other cool season crops.  It's also time to start tomato seeds in containers indoors.

This break from the rest of the world has had us doing one of the most tedious jobs, cleaning up a neglected flower bed. Weeding is hard work but the exercise feels great.  The reward is a beautiful border to the front yard that will soon have flowers growing in it.  Later in the year, we will also enjoy seeing the birds, bees, butterflies and other pollinators buzzing around the blooms.  Gardening brings a sense of hope.

Our region has had a mix of sunshine, rain and warmer weather lately, which means it is also time to get the mower out. Did you know that the sun is your best source of Vitamin D?  Vitamin D is important for helping the immune system function.

Another project we've been able to work on while stuck at home is setting up a greenhouse. The first step is nearly finished -- a gravel pad needed to be put in. We worked together to lay a plastic barrier down and moved about 5 yards of gravel onto it.  Now we just need to get out there and smooth it out with a rake.

There are a few more sprouts coming up in the garden. Below is red leaf lettuce that reseeded itself from last year.  Our peas are also just starting to germinate.

We found a few tiny new carrots that are growing from seeds that scattered in the wind last fall when our remaining carrots bolted.

In our garden zone (8b), it's not too early to plant seeds outside for cool season crops, which includes beets, spinach, lettuce, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and kale.  My daughter has been helping me get more of the garden beds weeded and we've been out there getting seeds in the ground.  It's been a wonderful distraction from the news and helps us stay productive.

Our family is hoping you are doing well and that you are finding ways to reduce your stress during this difficult time.