Many people find it cathartic to engage in outdoor activities such as gardening. If you’re reading this, it’s highly likely that you’re one of those people. Maybe, you see outdoor activities as a hobby, a passion, or perhaps, gardening is even a component of either your part-time or full-time career. What you may not know is that gardening and other similar activities come with a wide range of potential mental and physical health benefits. So, you might wonder, what exactly does dirt therapy mean, and how can it support your wellbeing? Today, we will answer those questions and talk about what to do if you find yourself in need of additional support.
What is Dirt Therapy?
Not to be confused with Danger Ideation Reduction Therapy (DIRT), which is sometimes used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, when someone says “dirt therapy,” they’re typically referring to the therapeutic benefits of gardening activities or the way that gardening activities can support one’s mental health. Mental health involves three components; your emotional wellbeing, your psychological wellbeing, and your social wellbeing. As you may know, physical and mental health go together, and dirt therapy is a way to support both. Here are some of the potential ways that someone may benefit from dirt therapy:
- Dirt therapy promotes physical activity. Exercise supports both physical and mental health by promoting cardiovascular health, reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression in many individuals, promoting a restful night of sleep, and providing an outlet.
- It’s a way to de-stress. Gardening and similar activities give you something to focus on outside of life stressors, which can be helpful for those facing stress or having trouble staying in the moment due to stress. Studies show that gardening can reduce stress levels, so if you’ve noticed that gardening provides a sense of relief, you’re correct.
- It can provide a sense of accomplishment. For many people, there’s almost nothing better than looking at a beautiful garden and knowing that it’s something you created!
Of course, this is by no means an extensive list. Gardening can be a great way to either socialize or get in some “me” time, depending on who you are. Above all else, it’s an exceptional way to get fresh air and experience the perks of being outdoors.
Who Benefits From Dirt Therapy?
Anyone can benefit from dirt therapy. If you like to get your hands dirty and find it helpful, that’s enough evidence for you to keep doing what you’re doing. With that said, there are a wide array of studies that confirm the advantages of spending time outdoors in various contexts, including time spent gardening specifically, and research indicates that gardening can help people facing various specific concerns. For example, though it doesn’t stop or prevent dementia, research shows that gardening can promote a sense of wellbeing in those with dementia. Studies also show that gardening can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. At the end of the day, different things work for different people. If you’re interested in dirt therapy, the only real way to know if it’s a good fit for you is to try it! You can start a garden at home if you’re able to do so, but if you aren’t, you might consider looking for a community garden in your area with a spot open. Typically, you can find community gardens and information about how to get started by searching for terms such as “community garden near me” or by visiting your local community garden and checking for signage that includes information about how to get involved.
What To Do If You Need Additional Support
Everyone needs to take care of their mental health, and no one is immune to mental health struggles. Gardening or dirt therapy can support your mental and physical health in many ways, but it isn’t a replacement for the support of a medical or mental health professional in any case. If you find dirt therapy helpful and cathartic but need additional mental health support, you can attend mental health therapy or counseling in addition to the therapeutic activities you engage in outdoors and reap the benefits of both.
Find A Therapist
Whether you’re struggling with concerns related to interpersonal relationships, a mental health condition or symptoms of a mental health condition, grief, stress, or anything else that’s on your mind, a therapist or counselor can help. There are a number of different ways to go about finding a therapist. You can ask your doctor for a referral, contact your insurance company to see who they cover, utilize an employee assistance program, search the web, use an online directory, or sign up for a reputable online therapy platform like BetterHelp. Regardless of how you find a therapist, you deserve to get the support you need.
About Marie Miguel
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.