If you’ve ever needed an excuse for gardening, here’s a big one.
It turns out spending time in your garden can actual improve your mental health.
Whether you’re feeling depressed, or just a little anxious, getting out in the garden can make a world of difference for you.
Time in the garden can boost your mood.
A survey of 289 gardeners conducted by The Conversation found that gardening improved self-esteem and reduced feelings of tension, depression and anger.
Psychology Today also outlines how gardening can improve our mental health.
Gardening not only helps keep you connected to living thing, it can also help treat a range of conditions.
If you’re feeling vulnerable, working in a walled or fenced garden can keep you within boundaries, literally and metaphorically. It’ll allow you to feel safe while you expand your horizons.
Gardening can also help with anxiety. By becoming more ‘present’ and being in the moment, you can calm your anxious mind. Toiling in the garden can allow you to become more aware of your senses, which can be very restorative. If you’ve experienced anxiety, you can also understand the feeling of being overwhelmed. Gardening can counteract that by allowing you to gain a sense of control. Controlling your garden beds and borders can ease your anxiety and give you a feeling of satisfaction.
For those in mourning, garden can also be beneficial. Think about why as a society we create gardens of remembrance, scatter the ashes of our loved ones and adorn their graces with flowers. One way of working through grief can be through rituals, and gardening is a good example of this. Gardening involves both giving life and acknowledging the end of life, it works in symbolism that can ease your grief. Try planting a tree or growing some flowers in remembrance of somebody you’ve lost.
Some actions in the garden can also allow you to channel your anger and aggression. Cutting back vines, chopping branches off of trees and pulling out weeds can all be great ways of taking your anger out. Getting destructive in the garden can all be for the benefit of growth in your garden, and it can help calm you down at the same time.
What’s good for the body is also good for the mind, which is why the physical benefits of gardening can also improve your mental health.
When you exercise, the hormones that make you feel good – dopamine and serotonin – rise. But the stress hormone cortisol, lowers.
This means you’ll feel happier and less stressed after focusing your energy on your garden.
Life Coach Joshua Duvauchelle refers to a study where two groups of people do relaxing activities gardening or reading a book.
He says the studies found that after 30 minutes of gardening “levels of the stress hormone cortisol dropped significantly in those who were working the soil”.
Duvauchelle also says something as simple as spending a few hours in the garden can prolong your life.
Plus he points to studies that discuss the benefits for gardening as you get older.
“An almost 20-year-long study found that seniors who garden have a lower risk of dementia than seniors who don’t garden,” he said.
A morning or afternoon in the garden can also help you sleep better by removing excess energy.
One of the most important gardening lessons to learn is that doesn’t have to be hard.
Your garden doesn’t have to be huge, in fact even growing a few plants in pots in a courtyard or porch can improve your mental health.
Hanging a few baskets or lining up a few pots on your window ledge can lift your spirits just by looking at them.
Why not start small and try planting seeds from the shops or buy some small seedlings such as nasturtiums or sweet peas?