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Have you ever considered the mental health benefits of gardening? Let’s see how and why gardening is good for your mental health.
Gardening is the practice of cultivating and growing plants like flowers, vegetables, trees, and grass.
If you have the tools and the ability, gardening will not just give you food or a beautiful environment, but will also provide psychological benefits.
Gardening may not be your go-to hobby. Yet if you are willing to try something new, this hobby is a superb choice.
How Gardening Helps your Mental Health.
Gardening is a relaxing hobby with a range of therapeutic benefits. Mental health benefits of gardening can either be immediate or long-term. Since it’s not a one-day thing, as you need to take care of the plants for some time, you can enjoy the positive outcomes of horticultural therapy for months.
If you know you are getting mental health benefits from doing something, won’t your motivation to do it increase? The following advantages will give you a reason for deliberate gardening for mental health.
1. Gardening enhances neuroplasticity
Nature has a positive effect on the way your brain functions because it boosts your cognitions. When you learn something new and pay attention to it, you keep your brain active and it creates new connections.
You can learn to garden on your own, through observation or by basic instruction. You don’t need to go for formal education to do it. But if you have the resources and the time, well, why not?
Gardening improves your attention, awareness and reasoning. Thus, learning new gardening skills is good for your brain health. See: How to Enhance Your Neuroplasticity.
2. Emotional benefits
Benefits of gardening to your mental health include reducing unpleasant mental symptoms like anxiety, depression, poor impulse control, and mood disturbance. It enhances your psychological strengths and teaches you resilience and patience. When successful it gives you rewarding results, and the sense of personal responsibility to take care of something.
The achievement of doing it successfully enhances your positive mindset. In time you learn a lot of lessons like delayed gratification, which you can apply in other areas of your life.
Gardening can help you through difficult moments when unpleasant mental states make life seem unbearable. In short, gardening can make you a happier person.
3.Being in contact with nature
Gardening is a fun way of spending time in nature. Being in nature keeps low mood and excessive worry at bay. Also, getting enough oxygen and sunlight helps to boost your mood.
Nature has a restorative power on your mind. Even picturing serene natural sceneries in your mind help you feel relaxed. Direct experience with the natural world is even more relaxing.
4. Physical exercise
The physical activity needed for gardening provides immediate stress relief. It’s a recommendable way to help you calm down during emotional highs. You’ll experience greater benefits when you make it a habit.
While gardening regularly, you take part in moderate physical activity. Physical exercise improves the health of both your mind and body.
Gardening or farming is a common activity in prisons, rehabilitation centres, schools and mental institutions because of food, and also its healing properties. It keeps you busy instead of being idle and wallowing in your problems.
5. Strengthening social ties
Social support and a sense of community is a critical positive factor in maintaining psychological health. When you engage in gardening activities with others, it boosts your social relationships. It can give you the opportunity to interact with other people and strengthen social ties.
6. Access to a healthy diet
You may practise farming to get food, but there’s always the mental health benefit as well. If you nurture edible plants, gardening can ensure you have a natural supply of healthy food. Leafy greens and fruits have essential nutrients for your brain.
7. Possibility of earning an income
You can engage in gardening as a leisure activity, but it can also be a source of income. Financial problems usually have a negative impact on your mental health, but if you have land, you can use gardening as a source of income and chase away poverty.
What if you don’t have a garden?
However, what if you live in a city and land isn’t available?
You can grow plants in the confines of your house and still enjoy the mental health benefits of gardening. Balcony, porch, window, or rooftop gardening works. Growing small plants or flowers indoors can work.
Aside from the oxygen benefit, or fresh air, that your brain needs for proper functioning, indoor plants also add to the beauty of your house.
What if all circumstances considered you cannot engage in gardening?
There is no end to nature-related hobbies in this world, and most of them are free, although you may have to pay for some.
You may go take a walk in a public garden with green refreshing scenery. Visit a farm. Get near a body of water like a beach, river or stream. Visit a national park, forest, or resort. Go camping in a natural environment. Take a walk in the park. Climb a mountain. Of course, consider all security and safety measures first.
Volunteer your services to an environmental organization and take part in the practical activities of sustainability e.g. planting trees, cleaning the environment, landscaping and horticulture.
What to do
Gardening improves your psychological and social health. Participating in farming activities, especially gardening, has a positive impact on mental health and helps create an enriching environment.
If you practise it longterm, it can be a preventive measure against mental health problems that are within your control.
You may also use gardening as a coping mechanism and as a therapeutic intervention.
The goal is to spend time in and with nature.
Given the broad mental health benefits of gardening, it’s a significant resource for protecting your sanity.
Therefore, I encourage you to participate in regular therapeutic gardening. If it’s within your power, do so with other people in your circle who are interested in the hobby.
Life is for living. Keep living. Don’t give up.
Mantler, A., & Logan, A. C. (2015). Natural environments and mental health. Advances in Integrative Medicine, 2(1), 5-12.
McHugh, A., & Ord, G. (2018). Therapeutic gardening. Retrieved from: https://research.libraries.wsu.edu:8443/xmlui/handle/2376/12920
Soga, M., Gaston, K. J., & Yamaura, Y. (2017). Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis. Preventive medicine reports, 5, 92-99. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335516301401
Thompson, R. (2018). Gardening for health: a regular dose of gardening. Clinical Medicine, 18(3), 201.
Shiue, I. (2016). Gardening is beneficial for adult mental health: Scottish Health Survey, 2012–2013. Scandinavian journal of occupational therapy, 23(4), 320-325.