How gardens can boost your mental and physical health
Studies have found that the mental health benefits of gardening are extensive. Not only can regular gardening reduce mental health problems like depression and anxiety, but it can also reduce stress and combat high blood pressure, in addition to improving overall physical fitness. Gardens and gardening make us feel better – that's a fact – and the real magic is that anyone, anywhere can enjoy their healing power.
"When you sit at a desk all day, there's something about literally putting your hands in the dirt, digging and actually creating something that's really beautiful. There's something about just being out there that feels kind of elemental” says avid gardener Gillian Aldrich.
While gardens can be relaxing, they can also be places where our efforts result in a real sense of achievement, boosting confidence and self-esteem. There’s also good evidence that just looking at a green space has positive effects on people’s mental health, helping them relax and de-stress.
8 ways that gardening can positively impact your mental and physical health:
If you feel like things are getting on top of you, gardening puts you back in control. Feel a sense of achievement as you accomplish each task - While you may never be able to fully have your life in order, you can decide how to arrange your vegetable patch!
Anxiety worsens when a person focuses heavily on the past, or spends time worrying about the future. Being around the ever-changing cycle of nature helps us to appreciate the everyday and focus on the ‘now’.
Clear your head
The rhythmic nature of many tasks associated with horticulture – weeding, trimming, sowing, sweeping – allows you to clear your head, encouraging thoughts to ebb and flow along with your movements, and ultimately allowing you to focus on what really matters.
Research suggests that gardens and gardening can hugely improve sleep quality, which has huge impacts on wellbeing. Sleep is proven to reduce stress, reduce inflammation, improve your memory and reduce your risk of depression alongside thousands of other health benefits.
Connect with nature
Gardening can act as a gentle reminder to us that we are not the centre of the universe. Self-absorption can contribute to depression, and by focusing on the great outdoors we are encouraged to be less insular.
Gardening is an activity that you can alter to your mood. If you’re feeling creative, you can do some research on different landscape ideas and how to plant various breeds of flower, mixing colours or clustering them together to make a beautiful visual presentation. If you simply want to get outside and work in the dirt to relieve stress without thinking too much, that’s great too!
Reconnect with family
Encourage your loved ones to get out into the garden with you. If you have children or grandchildren, they’ll be eager to get their hands dirty – give them their own project and teach them the importance of responsibility. Also, early exposure to dirt has been linked to all kinds of long-term health benefits, from reducing allergies to autoimmune diseases.
Gardening is a great workout, but it can also help you and your family get healthier in general if you’re growing fruits and veggies. Studies have shown that people who grow their own foods tend to eat better, and kids who grow up in a home where those healthy foods go straight from the ground to the table usually have better eating habits.
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