When you think about it, there are some pretty obvious parallels you can make between growing a garden and recovering from addiction. Both are slow, labor-intensive processes. You don’t make a beautiful garden without dedication, and you cannot recover from addiction without being 100% committed to it. Both begin with a seed (or an idea, in the case of recovery) and through patience and dedication that seed flourishes into something healthy and beautiful. Because of these similarities, it’s no wonder that gardening is so beneficial to those seeking to overcome addiction.

It provides a healthy distraction

Anyone in recovery knows the importance of the concept of distraction. Idle hands and minds are more vulnerable to relapse, and most addiction specialists recommend that people in recovery work to develop new, healthy hobbies.

“Distraction is used in a variety of settings to improve willpower, most notably among people trying to lose weight. Their techniques and rules can help you avoid relapsing. Remember that practice and repetition are important. The more you make these distractions into habits, the easier it will be to resist your cravings,” notes DrugRehab.us.

Gardening is a great distraction because it’s not only enjoyable, but it can occupy hours and hours of your time.

It boosts serotonin in a variety of ways

Serotonin is often referred to as the happy chemical, as its impact on the brain in one of pleasure, happiness, and improved mood (check here for more on serotonin). The act of being out in a garden boosts serotonin levels in a variety of ways. This is incredibly important for those recovering from addiction, as you are in greater need of ways to consistently replenish this chemical than most other people. Lack of serotonin has been linked to depression, anxiety, and and other mood disorders.

Gardening is actually great physical exercise. Digging, raking, lifting heavy objects, mulching, and planting all burn more calories than you think and work a variety of muscle groups. Just spend a whole day in the garden and see how you feel the next day. Physical activity boosts serotonin levels in the brain.

Gardening also gives you an opportunity to get enough Vitamin D, which is vital to maintaining a level mood. There is even research that says microbial organisms found in soil can help boost serotonin. Yes, this means that digging around in the dirt can actually force your brain to be happy.

It helps you eat a healthy diet

Vegetable gardening produces healthy, organic, non-pesticide-laden food that your body desperately needs during addiction recovery.

How important is diet to recovery? Incredibly. Your body needs to start repairing itself after the damage drugs and alcohol have done to it. You are what you eat, so a healthy diet is the only way to begin to heal.

“Drug and alcohol abuse can cause nutritional deficiencies and issues with digestion. Users often have depleted levels of vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids and fats, which can lead to a number of mental and physical problems. A healthy diet is a key component in the battle against addiction and can help lay the groundwork for attaining and maintaining sobriety,” says Recovery.org.

There are plenty of hobbies that people in addiction recovery can pick up that will help them along their path to sobriety. As long as it’s a healthy activity, you should pick whichever one gives you the greatest pleasure. But pound for pound, it’s pretty tough to beat gardening. It not only helps you stay in shape and eat healthier, but almost every action you take in the garden is beneficial to your mental health.

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