Many of us find that gardening helps us to relax and feel better. From watching seeds we have sprouted grow into fully-fledged plants, to picking veggies from the garden and eating them while they're still warm from the sun, there are many gardening moments that simply make you stop and appreciate life. Many people will tell you that their garden is their happy place, or the place they go to recharge their batteries.
The great news is, there is more and more evidence to show that gardening can be beneficial for your mental health. In this article, we take a look at just a few of the reasons why gardening can have a huge benefit on our brains.
The gardening and mental health link
In our fast paced world of technology and the constant flow of information, many people are struggling with anxiety and depression - and even if you haven't struggled with your own mental health, you probably know someone who has.
A review of ten papers published since 2003 on the link between gardening and mental health was posted in the Mental Health Review Journal in 2013. This review found that each paper reported “positive effects of gardening as a mental health intervention for service users, including reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety”. Some of the results reported from these studies included significant reduction in depression, anxiety and stress, and enhanced mood.
Gardening is also a great way to plug into your community - you can learn so much about plants just through chatting with a neighbour or someone down at your local nursery. It's a really fantastic way to connect with people and, if you have some gardening success, you can even share your harvest with friends, neighbours and family!
The positive impact of physical activity
Whether it’s moving logs around to build a garden bed, carrying a watering can back and forth or wheeling a wheelbarrow filled with dirt, there are many gardening activities that can help to get the blood pumping.
Physical activity is not only good for keeping our bodies fit and healthy, it’s also been shown to be good for our brains. A Norwegian study followed a cohort of 33,908 adults without symptoms of depression or anxiety for 11 years to assess the relationship between exercise and mental health. During this time period, those who said they didn’t exercise at the start of the study were 44 per cent more likely to develop case-level depression than those who exercised 1 to 2 hours each week. The paper resulting from this study was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, and hypothesised that 12 per cent of depression cases could be prevented if each person exercised for just an hour each week.
Green spaces can improve your mental health
It’s not only gardening that can help your mental wellbeing, studies show that just the act of being in green spaces can have a positive impact on wellness. A 2013 study found that those who relocate to urban areas that are greener experienced “significantly better mental health in all three post-move years”. A pretty convincing connection to make!
A Wisconsin study also found a positive link between greenery and mental health, as residents in neighbourhoods with more green spaces were found to experience lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress symptoms.
There’s no doubt that gardening makes us feel happier and more fulfilled, but as we now know, studies show that it can also have a real positive impact on mental health and wellness. Plus, getting out and about in the garden can be a great way to get some exercise in each week whilst surrounding yourself with nature.
So why not try gardening as one of the ways to keep your mental health in check - and if you can grow a few veggies while you're at it - that's a win win situation for your overall health!
There's no better time than now to start. So if you feel like taking up a new hobby (or revisiting an old one!), why not grab a shovel and get planting!
"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow." - Audrey Hepburn
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