For many folks, gardening is a mental health necessity as it helps with the stress and anxiety of their lives, which is an excellent aid to help many in this uncertain time. However, when delving deep into gardening and after many seasons, a sense of burn-out can happen even for the best mental tool out there. Burn-out is included in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as an occupational phenomenon. While it is not considered a medical condition, it is defined as:
“Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy. Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”–World Health Oragnization
In gardening, burn-out can often be seen in a lack of pleasure in spending time in the garden, angrily ripping out any failed plants, lack of interest in watering or effort in weeding. For many, this can steam from just being tired of the routine of having planted for so many seasons or from a particularly bad year of growing where nothing seemed to go right. This a feeling we have all had even when we have built our very lives and income surrounding the world of agriculture and gardening.
So, what can you do when gardening and farming becomes a stress burning you out, but you still need to produce food for yourself, your family, or the market?
Switch Things Up
It might be an excellent chance to take a step back from it and go for a run or do a different craft or hobby for the day. If that isn’t an option, perhaps switching up the order in which you do the garden chores or watering in there evening versus the morning to give a new perspective on it all.
Ask for Help
This can be a hard one to utilize when gardening might be your tool to get away from others or the bustle of the family. But, extending that request to help can help others recognize what you do, how to help you, and what signs in the future they might notice to tell them you need that help.
Sometimes we need to go back to the easy, quick, fun style of gardening and scale things back to something that doesn’t require multiple hours each day to deal with. One of the largest overwhelming aspects of gardening is that once you get successful you want to just keep doing more and not realize how much of your life and time is now being taken up by this. This is why giving yourself a season to two of small and simple can bring back to joy in growing.
Being Fall Clean Up Early
If this year’s season has gone to the brown side before planned and the stress over failed crops is too much, then it might be best to start that fall clean-up early. Giving yourself an out for the season is a great way to keep positive and motivated for the garden, and give yourself a chance to focus on other things for the rest of the sunny season.
It’s ok to not be Pinterest Perfect
Know that you can have a few weeds, things can die, and everything won’t be that picture-perfect aspect you might have hoped for. That is ok, take a break from the garden influencers, magazines, and online media. Let another interest fill in that feed or simply give the social influences a break for a bit.
You are not Alone
Yes, even we at Ask Aggie have had garden burn-out so fear not skipping a season or using whatever method that helps you revive yourself the best way possible. We hope for the very best of this next growing season for you and that you remember the priority of your mental health.