How Gardening Can Improve Your Mental Health

Find out how gardening can improve your mental health.

Research shows that spending time outdoors positively affects our bodies and minds. Therefore, any activity that keeps you outside will do you lots of good. One such activity is gardening. While it’s true that not everyone has a green thumb, it doesn’t mean you can’t give it a try. You’ll be surprised by how pleasant and relaxing it can be. Not to mention all the associated health benefits. That’s why there’s even such a thing as horticultural therapy. It is great for therapy and rehabilitation. In any case, the most important thing to remember is that you can always rely on plants to increase positivity in your life. To understand this better, let’s look at how gardening can improve your mental health.

No. 1 Reducing your stress levels is how gardening can improve your mental health

Stress has become a major concern for our well-being. Unfortunately, it’s hard to avoid it when stress factors surround us. Everything from challenging jobs and financial troubles to health issues and family responsibilities weighs heavily on our shoulders.

On top of that, whenever we read the news, we are bombarded with global problems that also impact us. But all that stress can cause significant mental and physical health issues. Therefore, you must find ways to relieve it. And gardening will do just that. It enables you to focus your attention on something else for a while.

Moreover, it keeps your mind and hands busy, thus preventing you from thinking about your troubles. What’s great is that you don’t even need a big yard to do this. Indoor gardening works just as well for reducing your stress levels. Pick some great low-light plants for your apartment, and you’re all set.

A woman overwhelmed by stress at work.
Stress negatively impacts your mental health, but gardening can help you relieve some of it.

No. 2 It improves your mood and helps treat mental disorders

From a scientifical standpoint, gardening can increase your serotonin levels, thus making you feel happier. And who doesn’t want that? At the same time, this is one of the reasons you can use gardening to treat various mental disorders. 

Some of the most common examples are anxiety and depression. The incidence rate of these two disorders has significantly increased in recent years. But the main concern is that they can cause other problems, such as drug addiction.

But interestingly enough, gardening can help with that as well. Rehab specialists often prescribe sober activities as part of addiction treatment. Specifically, they highlight the importance of having sober fun to stay clean. And gardening is a great way to have fun while in recovery.

No. 3 It makes you exercise

Promoting exercise is how gardening can improve your mental health. Yes, it’s true. Physical activity doesn’t just benefit your physical health but also your mental health. When you exercise, your brain produces more endorphins. These chemicals reduce your stress and pain levels. As a result, your mood will improve.

Gardening is great because it lets you choose the intensity of your workouts. Also, if you want to challenge yourself, you can focus on growing vegetables and fruit. That entails a lot of work because it’s not enough to plant them. You also have to attend to them constantly.

A person planting seedlings in the garden.
Promoting exercise is how gardening can improve your mental health.

On the other hand, if you don’t have the time or the mobility to exercise that much, you can plant a small flower bed. You still have to attend to it regularly, but you won’t exert yourself. For example, this is how older adults can benefit from gardening.

But what if you live in an apartment building? Not to worry, you can exercise there as well. A great way to do this is by placing potted plants on the front stairs or roof of the building. As a result, you’ll have to climb up and down the stairs each time you need to water them. 

No. 4 It can facilitate social interactions

We are social beings, which means that we constantly need to interact with other people. That’s why isolation has a very negative impact on our mental health. It causes feelings of loneliness and depression, as well as more severe issues. In addition, pleasant interactions also boost our mood.

Gardening can facilitate social interactions in different ways. For instance, if you’re running up and down the stairs of your apartment building to attend to your plants, sooner or later, you’ll bump into your neighbors. You’ll likely start with short exchanges of greetings. But after a while, one of you will become more chatty, particularly if they share your interest in plants.

However, getting involved in a community garden is the best way to meet and socialize with like-minded people. These shared spaces tend to create a strong bond between the community members. They also enable you to practice outdoor gardening if you live in an apartment building.

Two women gardening together and socializing.
Gardening can facilitate social interactions with like-minded people.

No. 5 It promotes healthy eating

A healthy diet combined with exercise will do wonders for your health. Once again, this also refers to your mental health. Firstly, your brain needs protein and healthy fats to function properly. Secondly, your diet and eating habits can affect your mood. For example, your blood sugar levels will drop if you don’t eat regularly. That will put you in a bad mood and drain your energy. 

However, if you grow vegetables and fruit in your garden, you’ll feel motivated to eat healthily. Not to mention that you’ll feel proud of your accomplishment, which will also improve your mood.

In conclusion

Now that you know how gardening can improve your mental health, it’s time to try it. You can start small, with just a few potted plants, and see how it goes. If you start to enjoy it, gradually increase your number of plants.

You shouldn’t get discouraged if one or more don’t make it. That isn’t about becoming a gardening expert but improving your mental health. And you mustn’t forget that. Furthermore, you should look for a community garden to get the best results from this therapeutic activity.

Author bio: Contributing author, Ana C. Balentine, works as a content writer for Bright Futures Treatment Center. Her main goal is to help people struggling with addiction overcome this disease and live long and happy lives. She also finds great comfort in gardening, which is why she wants to promote its many benefits.

Images used:
Featured Image
Woman with laptop
Yellow seedling pots
Two people picking crops

Two Florida gardeners living in a sub-tropical paradise. Find us on Google+!

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