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How Does Gardening Improve Mental Health?

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Spending time in the garden used to be something many of us took for granted. A couple of lockdowns later and we’ve come to realise just how important it is for our physical and mental health. Here’s how gardening improves mental health.

Gardening Helps with Depression

Gardening helps reduce the symptoms of depression in lots of ways. It’s a mindful activity that keeps you in the present moment. It gives you a sense of purpose and achievement. Just getting outside in the fresh air and sunshine and taking some exercise is mood-boosting in itself.

The evidence is far from just anecdotal too. A 2011 study (1) on gardening and depression had participants prepare flower beds, plant seeds, and grow the plants over 12 weeks. At the end of the programme, most of the participants reported that their depression was less severe. 96% of participants found working with the plants meaningful.

Gardening Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Researchers at Cornell University found that as little as 10 minutes in nature made students feel happier and less stressed. It’s well-known that spending time in nature decreases levels of stress hormones in the body, lowers blood pressure, and gives the mind a break from its constant chatter.

It Helps You Be in the Moment

When you’re gardening, there are plenty of opportunities to engage your senses. You might notice what the soil feels like or what the flowers smell like. But that’s not the only way gardening improves mental health. It keeps you in the moment and focused on what you’re doing. This means you’re not worrying or focusing on negative thoughts. You need to be aware of things like how much water to give the plants, how far apart to place your seeds, and make sure you pull out weeds and not flowers.

Gardening Improves Your Self-Esteem

If you’ve nurtured your garden and grown beautiful flowers or your own vegetables, it can give you a real sense of achievement. Especially if you don’t consider yourself to have green fingers.

It Can Help You Meet People

One important way that gardening improves mental health is by helping you meet people. Don’t have a garden of your own? You might consider signing up for an allotment or helping out at a community garden. It’s a great way to feel less isolated and do something positive with like-minded people.

Gardening is Great Exercise

If you’ve ever turned over hard soil or raked a huge lawn, you’ll know that gardening is quite physical. Even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time, all that weeding, raking, and trimming releases feel-good hormones. Not to mention it’s great for your aerobic fitness and strength.

You’ll Get Your Dose of Vitamin D

The body can’t get all the vitamin D it needs from food. One of the main ways the body absorbs it is through sun exposure. Studies have linked low vitamin D levels to depression.

Researchers at the University of Manchester found that for lighter skin types, daily sunlight exposure for 10-15 minutes between April and September gives you enough vitamin D to last an entire year! For darker skin types, 25-40 minutes is recommended. (2)

Gardening Can Encourage Healthy Eating

Growing your own fruit, veg, and herbs is an excellent way to get more nutrients in your diet. You are what you eat as they say, and a balanced diet is the best way to good physical and mental health.

It Can Help You Sleep Better

All that fresh air and exercise reduces the stress and anxiety that can keep you tossing and turning at night. Then there’s the fact it can make you more physically tired so you sleep better at the end of the day.

Gardening improves mental health in so many ways. Does time in the garden make you feel better? We’d love to know. Want more interesting articles on gardening and the must-have timber gardening products for your outside space? Check out the rest of our blog.

This entry was posted in Gardening

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