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Garden journaling is one of the most underused tools for gardeners. It’s also a tool that research shows can decrease anxiety, depression, and stress. That means that along with the joy you’re getting from gardening directly, you can further increase your state of joy simply by keeping a journal. 

But if keeping a garden journal is so beneficial, why aren’t more growers doing it?

Objection #1: Time 

Growers are busy with their lives and gardening tasks. Often, the assumption around journaling is that you have to do it every day or for a long period of time. 

But one study revealed that the time it takes to receive the benefits of journaling are less than most people believe (1). In the study, people diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) showed significant decreases in depression scores when assigned to write about their thoughts and feelings for just 20 minutes over three consecutive days. A follow-up later also showed that the benefits continued four weeks after the individuals participated in the study. With just three consecutive days of journaling for just 20 minutes, individuals with a very serious depressive disorder decreased their depression scores. 

Getting benefits from journaling doesn’t have to take giant amounts of time.

What do you think might happen if you wrote for three consecutive days for just twenty minutes each about the single biggest challenge you’re facing in your garden?

Objection #2: The avoidance of deep emotions. 

When we bring deep emotions to the surface, it can often disrupt the flow of our daily lives and productivity. But what if the journaling process could shed light on the logic you’re currently using that may be holding you back from realizing your full, vibrant, incredible self?

In a study titled, ‘Self-writing as a tool for change: the effectiveness of a psychotherapy using diary,’ (2) findings demonstrated that daily diary writing can encourage personal reflections and changes, capture micro-transformations, and shed light on argumentative logic used to represent self and problems occurring for the individual. Other studies show that when people write about emotional trauma, there is a marked improvement in their physical and mental health (3).

If you journaled every day about your garden, how many micro-transformations could be brought to your attention? 

How much more clearly could you see how far you’ve come on your garden journey? 

And how much could your mental and physical health improve?

Objection #3: Growers often feel like journaling won’t really improve their gardening results.

An in-depth examination into the ‘Use of Reflective Journaling to Understand Decision Making’, (4) a myriad of insights emerged when psychotherapists and other clinicians practiced reflective journaling about their cases. Insights were not only gained for the individual therapist, but for the therapies they were using to support their patients as well.

By reflective journaling about our gardens, you gain insights into your individual decision making about your garden. And by sharing your insights with other growers, leaps in gardening methods are possible as well.

Ultimately, studies on journaling have brought to light benefits ranging from improvements in mental and physical health to gaining insights on our decision-making processes. And while more research is needed to discover just how much time is needed and specific methods that may prove more beneficial, current studies show that you can get benefits from journaling without dedicating your life to becoming a writer.

References:

1. Krpan, K. M., Kross, E., Berman, M. G., Deldin, P. J., Askren, M. K., & Jonides, J. (2013). An everyday activity as a treatment for depression: The benefits of expressive writing for people diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 150(3), 1148–1151. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2013.05.065  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3759583/

2. Faccio, E., Turco, F., & Iudici, A. (2019). Self-writing as a tool for change: The effectiveness of a psychotherapy using diary. Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome, 22(2). https://doi.org/10.4081/ripppo.2019.378  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7451300/

3. Smith, M. A., Thompson, A., Hall, L. J., Allen, S. F., & Wetherell, M. A. (2018). The physical and psychological health benefits of positive emotional writing: Investigating the moderating role of type D (distressed) personality. British Journal of Health Psychology, 23(4), 857–871. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjhp.12320 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6174944/

4. Cook, J. M., Simiola, V., McCarthy, E., Ellis, A., & Stirman, S. W. (2018). Use of reflective journaling to understand decision making regarding two evidence-based psychotherapies for PTSD: Practice implications. Practice Innovations, 3(3), 153–167. https://doi.org/10.1037/pri0000070 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6426332/

Crystal Meserole
GYOV Instructor and Harvest Club Support

Crystal owns and operates a one-woman wholesale commercial living microgreen operation in the mountains of western North Carolina. After working and managing local restaurants for over a decade, she saw the need for chefs to have access to more affordable, organic food for the delicious creations they craft for our communities.

Crystal hopes to stand as a clear message to anyone who thinks they can’t grow: You can. Anyone can. With the right system, mindsets, and mentor, everything becomes possible.  

Have you gained insights from journaling about your garden? Do you experience more joy when you’re journaling? We’d love to hear! Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!