Gardening Is Great For Your Mental Health
This year has been psychologically difficult for many of us. It is as if one day we suddenly woke up from a devastating global pandemic, protests sweeping our country from coast to coast, and an unprecedented high unemployment rate. With hundreds of reasons to worry and stress, you may have been feeling overwhelmed lately. Nearly 50% of people reported negative mental health outcomes from COVID-19 alone.
However, this should not remain so forever. There are many ways to cheer yourself up even in this turbulent time. A proven, versatile and flexible way to relieve stress is gardening.
Even if you consider yourself a cursed “brown finger”, you may find that the process of growing something from the land on which you live is not only beneficial but also healing. There really is no better time than now to take up your hobby, and some quiet time in nature may be just what you need to recover. In this article, we’ll discuss ways gardening can improve your mental health and overall happiness. So get ready to hear how gardening can make life happier and more fulfilling.
Stress is one of the most common negative human emotions that everyone around the world experiences. Over 75% of people experience stress that affects their physical health. Physically, your body may experience muscle tension, high blood pressure, digestive problems, or other ailments. Psychologically, your stress can lead to anxiety and depression.
By interacting directly with the fundamental components of gardening such as soil, sunlight and nature, stress levels may be reduced. Time spent in the garden reduces the production of cortisol, a hormone that the body produces during times of stress. Cortisol can cause confusion, increased heart rate, sweaty palms, and other undesirable side effects.
Research has shown that gardening is even more stress-relieving than reading! The sunlight you get from being in a plant box not only helps reduce your stress levels, it also has other benefits!
Gardening can boost your immune system, which means it will be easier for you to fight off the infections or viruses that plague our globe today. The dirty and messy soil of your garden also produces the right immune boosters. Instead of acquiring eosinophils that cause allergic reactions, gardening will help your body produce neutrophils.
These white blood cells are already part of your innate immune system and are constantly responding to microbial invaders. These are the kind of biological warriors you want to see in your body, especially now! While your immune system benefits from the ground, you can also grow plants that are natural immune boosters in their own right!
- Echinacea: Traditionally, the indigenous people used this herb to purify the blood! Today, echinacea is especially helpful for fighting respiratory ailments like the common cold (or possibly COVID-19).
- Elderberry: A significant benefit of elderberries is the presence of proanthocyanidins. Fruit antimicrobials have been fighting flu symptoms for centuries!
- Astragalus: In addition to boosting the immune system, this bean/legume primarily helps with diseases of the heart and other organs.
- Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera is one of the most popular herbs used to boost the immune system. It is rich in polysaccharides and has anti-inflammatory properties.
While gardening won’t necessarily prepare you for your next bodybuilding competition, it will definitely be a good workout for the small muscles in your body. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified this hobby as an exercise! In fact, just 30-45 minutes of gardening can burn up to 300 calories and engage all major muscle groups!
Staying indoors for a few months could affect how much strength you have. Chances are your muscles have deteriorated in the last few months of quarantine if you haven’t been exercising or exercising daily.
Gardening offers an inexpensive and relaxing way to return to regular physical activity without harming your body. Physical activity is also ideal for getting the body moving again due to the limited number of repetitive movements that often lead to ailments like tennis elbow. And the best part is that you can have fun doing it!
Gardening can also lead to healthier eating habits. Since fruits and vegetables are grown on your land, you don’t have to wonder what types of fertilizers and pesticides your food has been exposed to. There are fruits and vegetables of your choice throughout the garden, carefully selected and processed so that you are sure to enjoy their nutritional benefits more often. Gardening is not only good for your body, it’s also good for your wallet!
It can be difficult to live in a moment where you are constantly worried about the problems going on in the world. With the constant bombardment of tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts, that sense of calm is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve. Gardening offers an escape from it all. As you work on your plants, you are focusing on the task ahead (such as digging, pruning, or weeding) rather than the larger global issues facing the world today.
Sun exposure has a long list of benefits. The most important effect is an increase in vitamin D production. Unfortunately, a shocking 42% of Americans reported vitamin D deficiency in 2018. This is surprising since all your body needs is just 10-15 minutes a day in the sun!
A unique quality horticultural offering is a deeper sense of purpose in your life. You no longer live to wake up every morning, but you have something to care for, nurture and grow in full force. Almost as soon as you start gardening, you will see results that are sure to fill you with a sense of pride and accomplishment. These emotions stimulate the release of feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin in the brain. Moreover, gardening is one of the common activities suggested to seniors and people with disabilities. Programs like NDIS plans cover some necessities of its disabled participants so they can enjoy this hobby with ease.
Last but not least, gardening allows you to reconnect with the people and the world around you. When was the last time you sat outside and felt the sun dancing on your skin, or the texture of a leaf in your hand? How long has it been since you had a meaningful conversation about a project or hobby?
Gardening helps bring communities and people together. When social distancing is necessary to ensure our safety, it is important to remember that it is not necessary to completely cut off communication. Gardening offers a unique experience of connecting with the world beneath our feet.
As a gardener, you’ll tune in to the soil your plants grow in, the rain clouds over your head, and the nutrients you’ll receive from your delicious rewards. Instead of quickly looking at the trees on your way to the supermarket, you will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the ladybugs walking on the ground and the fruits of your proverbial garden.
The last connection you can find is between you and yourself. Gardening can be a practical meditation tool, even in small indoor spaces. A hobby can allow you to accept that you can’t control everything, that things won’t be perfect in the traditional sense, and that all living beings have a purpose.
The world misses you, your brain needs a rest, and your body is tired of being indoors. Maybe it’s time to grab a shovel, gardening gloves, and start farming for your health, both mentally and physically.