The Healthy Benefits Of Being In Nature - How A Garden Saved My Life
Posted Dec 30 2009 10:39am
Joe Lamp'l, garden television show superstar and the producer of the new
PBS television series, "Growing A Greener World" posted the below "guest post"
which I wrote on his Compost Confidential
blog site. It received such a positive response, that I wanted to post it here
also to let the world know that being in nature really DID save my life and it
can save your life too.
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Today's post is by my friend and guest blogger, Shawna Coronado. Little
did I know, when I met Shawna only a few months ago on Twitter, her story would
be so perfect for a new campaign I was working. With all the cutbacks and
reduced media exposure these days to gardening, I embarked on a mission to be a
champion for the cause. With apologies to Michael Pollan, I wanted to entitle my
campaign; "In Defense of Gardening", but for now, I'm calling it "Why Gardening
Part of what makes this popular pastime so vital to millions, is the
health benefits derived from it. We all know what we get out of it personally as
it relates to stress reduction and a bit of exercise, but countless studies
worldwide, support just how important the act of gardening really is in so many
ways, well beyond simply what we do as a hobby.
So today, I introduce you to Shawna, and her story of how gardening
literally may have saved her young life:
Over 10 years ago, I was very ill of health. A single Mom, I had
endometriosis, combined with stress, lack of outdoor exposure, poor eating
habits, severe allergies, high blood pressure, asthma, sugar and chemical
sensitivities. This escalated to severe upper respiratory problems. I was always
sick with bronchitis triggered by allergies as well as non-stop woman issues
such as yeast and bacterial infections. I frequently suffered migraines and head
and back pain.
(To continue with the story, please click the link below...)
All these things and many other pressures began to build in my life. Before I
knew it I looked like a skeletal stick figure and weighed only 96 pounds. My
back would go out often [due to muscle weakness] and I would be left unable to
walk for days or even a week at a time. I worked and came home and rarely went
out doors. At one point I took over a dozen prescriptions a day just to survive.
It was a grim existence.
One day a surprising thing happened that changed my life; I got the genius
idea to build a garden on the city easement area around my front mail box. That
experience was the beginning of an incredible journey for me both emotionally
and physically. It was a revelation and within a few years, "down-sized" my
career, became a professional garden designer and full-time writer. I feel
better and look better than I ever have - I am thirty pounds heavier than I was
ten years ago, but I look healthy and feel well. It is still necessary for me to
take prescriptions, but now I only take three per day instead of over a
Many gardens later, I am still gardening heartily. Nature has become my
source of health. As I became exposed to the outdoors and increased my physical
activity, I started feeling relief with all my health ailments. Better diet,
exercise, and outdoor exposure truly helped me to recover and feel as if I am
alive again. Although far from perfect, it was such a tremendous change that I
still feel it could be called "a miracle." Building my health back through
gardening had become such an amazing experience for me that in 2008 I wrote and
published "Gardening Nude", a book about better health through environmental
exposure and greening.
Gardening and green lifestyle living helps me cope with stress better and
in-turn it also helps my body tolerate my allergies and other conditions as
well. I make time for the outdoors, and even more important to my plan, I make
time for community. Building a healthier community, particularly in the
gardening world, is a fantastic prelude to expanding your soul. Meeting people
who live in the surrounding area and building wacky relationships with wonderful
friends in my community helped me realize how important being a part of a
community contributes to my better health and can do so for you too.
Gardening is a natural step towards community. Who has a plant to share or a
vegetable to share during the gardening season? Every gardener I know. The
simple act of giving to another human being is enough to begin a healthy mental
relationship with that person. While making the physical effort to get out into
nature and build a garden is important, it is the act of following through with
community which will truly make a difference for your emotional health.
It has become my passion to bring community together and to teach people that
it is possible to be energetic, healthy, and to live a lifestyle which is good
for the environment and the world. It is possible to be less stressed, less
isolated and more satisfied with who you are and the life you are living. I know
because my family and I are happily living it; the green life.
All thanks to a garden and one determined woman.
Shawna Lee Coronado is an author, columnist, energetic speaker, and
environmental and health correspondent. Her book "Gardening Nude" is focused on
health improvement by exposure to nature, greening, and community building and
can be purchased on www.amazon.com.
Find more about Shawna through her website - www.thecasualgardener.com.