Why Bollywood celebrities are turning to gardening as a mindfulness activity

Whether you’ve always had a green thumb, or you’re working on growing your first houseplant, it’s clear that tilling, planting, nurturing, gardening and harvesting plants can be great to boost your mental health. Just ask Anushka Sharma and Samantha Akkineni, who have taken up the habit in quarantine. “Me and my buddies 🌱🌱🌱,” Sharma captioned the photo of her balcony in full bloom.

“My first harvest of cabbage microgreens,” shared Akkineni, who has been growing herbs and plants like lettuce and cabbage in a vertical home planter. “I finally found something I am passionate about that is not part of my job,” she shared.

Why is gardening a great hobby to start during lockdown?

Since you’re at home more, now is a great time to start working on your skills. “It helps sharpen cognition, build overall immunity and balance blood pressure. Human beings were fundamentally connected to their environment. What we are experiencing now is isolation. Gardening or being with nature can help ground you when things are overwhelming,” says Shailendra Chaubey, an Ayurvedic doctor.

“Gardening is a highly sensorial experience, which immediately connects the mind to the body. In times of isolation, it is touch therapy to feel the soil between your fingers, the moisture, the heat,” shares Mumbai-based psychologist Tanya Vasunia. “There is also a great deal of aromatherapy involved as the smell of fresh soil and plants is comforting,” she shares. In fact, research shows that inhaling M. vaccae, a healthy bacteria that lives in soil, can increase levels of serotonin, which can reduce anxiety and depression symptoms. It’s not just the stimuli to the senses: to see your plant sprout new leaves can leave you with a sense of gratitude.

Gardening is so therapeutic that it is officially used as a healing module in many long-term rehabilitation centres, informs Vasunia. When you tend to plants you are focusing and building empathy for another living being. “How do we get a plant to grow strong? We need to give it a lot of attention, focus on the soil and sunlight. It is very much a reflection of how humans are,” she says.

It also helps to build self-esteem. “When we are feeling depressed or have massive amounts of anxiety that leaves us paralysed, there is also a lot of guilt that comes with it. Can I take care of other people? How can I add value to something else? Am I being a burden? Do I have anything to give? The idea is to give you a sense of confidence that you can nurture someone else, before you take on a human being. Taking care of a plant is very important in attuning on how to take care,” shares Vasunia.

How to get started on gardening at home

If you’ve never even tried to care for a desk plant before, research can be a great way to give you a structure. Start slow and steady. “One of the things I advise my clients, who are gardening novices, is to start off with an herb plant. You will use in cooking, so it’s sensory oriented. It’s direct usage so unlikely that you will forget about it. They require little but consistent effort,” advises Vasunia. “There is a surprise element in flowers blooming that keeps us stimulated. Just observing the flowers from bud to bloom stage is calming to the nerves,” says Jhelum Biswas Bose, a Bach Flower consultant and aromatherapist. You could even volunteer to help your housing community to look after a patch of greens.

The article was first published in Vogue

Author

  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

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