Does the phrase “the new normal” drive you nuts? How about “these unprecedented times”? For whatever reason, these pandemic terms that we’ve all heard over and over again in these uncertain (sorry!) times are what can send me into a rage.
I’m not alone in my sensitivity. Emotional distress and general anxiety have been widespread throughout the COVID-19 pandemic—chalk it up to life being thrown off course for 15-plus months. As a result, what used to be a mild annoyance can trigger a bout of fury.
Luckily, people are getting constructive with that anger and channeling it into various forms of self-expression for relief. There’s rage baking, rage DIYing, rage cleaning—and now, rage gardening.
In fact, while rage gardening isn’t a new concept, it has become, well, all the rage lately. That’s likely because venting your life’s frustrations on plants is therapeutic and cathartic, and comes with a payoff in the form of vegetables or flowers.
So break out your trowel and read on if you’re looking for a constructive way to deal with your anger.
What is rage gardening?
Rage gardening is exactly what it sounds like: getting out your rage while getting things done in your garden.
“Rage gardening is fueled not by your passion for growing plants and flowers, but by anger and dissatisfaction,” says Ryan Smith, a gardening expert and owner of Ant and Garden Organic Pest Control.
So instead of venting your frustration or indignation in unhealthy ways, you express it through manual labor in the garden: pruning, pulling, digging, slashing, and weeding ferociously.
“Rage can give you the energy you need to tear through tasks that you may have neglected, like deadheading spent flowers, getting rid of dying branches, or picking overdue crops,” adds Jen Stark, founder of Happy DIY Home, a gardening and home improvement blog.
Note of caution: Be careful not to lean into your anger too much. You don’t want to inadvertently ruin your garden.
Is rage gardening really a stress reliever?
Anger, like many emotions, creates a physiological reaction in the body.
“Gardening is a great way to refocus your energy,” says Dr. Bryan Bruno, medical director at Mid City TMS, a New York City–based medical center focused on treating depression. “It gets you outside, which is always good for mental health. Plus, gardening requires you to engage completely both physically and mentally.”
Physically engaging your entire body also benefits your immune system, and gardening can help you feel connected to the earth and a slower pace of life. That’s particularly good because anger can cause impulsive behavior and result in questionable decisions.
“This is because the emotional center of the brain—the amygdala—reacts before the prefrontal cortex,” adds Bruno. “And the prefrontal cortex is responsible for rational thinking and checks if our reaction’s a reasonable one. Gardening, of course, calms one’s mind, making it the perfect counterpoint to…