With spring comes all kinds of beautiful natural greenery and flowers. This is the perfect time of year to get outside and get your hands in the dirt with some good old-fashioned gardening. Not only is looking after plant life great for the planet, but gardening has a host of physical and mental health benefits as well. It might be easy to see the physical side of things, but how does gardening improve mental health?
Perhaps you’ve found yourself wondering, how does gardening improve mental health? If so, you’re already thinking along the right lines. Gardening has a long history of improving mental health and calming people down by placing them back in nature. It also has the advantage of being both a solitary activity and one that can be shared, either with a loved one and/or with an entire community. Community-run gardens not only provide a sense of connection, but they also provide good, healthy, homegrown food.
Gardening is a physical activity, sure, but it’s also a mental one. A lot of planning and thinking takes place in a garden, whether you’re by yourself, with a loved one, or with your whole community. Whether you have a new or old garden, a flower or a vegetable garden, something about designing and using a garden space adds so much to your life and the lives of those around you. So, how does gardening improve mental health?
Think and Relax On Your Own Time
Gardening provides a kind of safe space and an area where you can get away from the modern world and all its problems for a while. A garden can give you a much-needed place to relax and think through your day, any issues you may be having, etc. If your garden space is a private one — say, in your own backyard, for example – then you can use this time to fully decompress from the day, or get ready for a new one. Life can be stressful even in the best of times, and having a build-in place that you can go to get away from it all will do wonders for your mental health.
Blocking out time to garden can be a community or family activity as well. If you have a child, even a very young child in kindergarten, you can also make this a shared space and invite them to garden with you. Teaching a younger person about gardening can give you a sense of pride and connection as you see them blossom along with the flowers.
Decrease Your Blood Pressure
Gardening is a physical activity, whether you’re the sort of person who spends hours pulling the weeds around your vegetables, or the sort who prefers to just stroll through the flowers every day or so. Simple and easy exercise such as gardening is a great way to improve your physical health and lower your blood pressure. Lowered blood pressure is associated with a lowered risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other diseases.
Decreasing your blood pressure is also likely to promote a feeling of calm and control, letting you let go of stress more easily and feel centered when you’re connected to the earth. That’s all wonderful news for your physical health — but how does gardening improve mental health?
Reduce Your Stress
Stress has a lot of both short and long-term effects on the body, most of which are harmful. Taking the time to reduce your stress levels can work wonders for your mood, ability to handle challenges, ability to focus, and overall happiness. Just standing in your garden or outdoor space and taking deep, slow breaths of fresh, clean air can help you feel centered and connected to the world around you, cutting through the anxious chatter of your mind and calming you down.
With its beauty and simple, focused work, gardening can quickly become your refuge, just as much as any local beauty spa might. Often, spas will have a variety of plants inside to help bring in that natural vibe and boost their clients’ mood. Well, you can get just as much nature out in your own slice of the outdoors, complete with fresh air and sunshine.
Increase Your Vitamin D Intake
Speaking of sunshine, Vitamin D is a vital vitamin for the human body. If someone has a vitamin D deficiency, they’re likely to experience depressed mood, fatigue, muscle weakness, and in extreme cases, thin and brittle bones. Vitamin D is made when our bodies absorb sunlight, so getting outside is the best remedy for low vitamin D.
Keep your gardening supplies in your garage for easy access when you need them. If your garage has become a storage shed, or you’re dealing with a broken garage door, searching for local garage door repair services should give you all the information you need to choose a company that’s right for your needs.
Develop a Growth Mindset
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll have what you’ve always had. Developing a growth mindset is about always reaching for a more fulfilling life and trying to do better, for yourself and for those around you. Gardening helps you see this sort of mindset in action all around you, as seeds sprout up into small plants, then grow and blossom into something much larger and more beautiful than when they started.
That said, not all growth is something to encourage. If you find yourself playing host to unwanted guests such as aphids and pill bugs, it may be time to look into pest control options for your garden. There are a variety of ways you can go about pest control, both with and without harsh chemicals, so you can choose the best option for you and your plants.
Learn to Accept Imperfections
How does gardening improve mental health? As it turns out, gardening can help make you less sensitive to imperfections and less likely to stress over small things. While a garden can be a lot of work and can certainly become a source of stress if you let it, most people find that gardens increase their tolerance for the imperfect things in life and even help them see the beauty in them. Nature isn’t perfect and, as a part of it, you shouldn’t expect yourself to be either.
That said, if you’ve planted a fair number of tall trees as part of your landscaping or garden space, you may want to consider investing in some good leaf guard gutters to help you avoid clogs and subsequent damage. It would be sad to risk undoing all the calming work you’ve done in your garden the first time a storm rolls in or when the leaves start falling.
Feel Connected With the Earth
So, how does gardening improve mental health? It also gives people a sense of community and connection. Community gardens are a long-standing establishment in certain areas of the country, and the sense of being together and building something together is a powerful mood booster.
It’s not just being connected to other humans either — being connected to the earth is a major source of peace and stress relief for the vast majority of people. There’s just something about putting your hands in the dirt and helping something to grow that reminds us of our part in this big, wide, weird world of ours.
Feeling connected to the earth also means looking after the earth. Root pruning is necessary on certain plants which are going to be moved or transplanted to encourage the growth of new feeder roots, much like how you sometimes have to give up something you’re used to and comfortable with in order to reach for something new and better for you. Additionally, you may have to look into finding a tree service in your area if your garden or outdoor space contains a lot of large trees. While some maintenance can be done by a layperson, there are some jobs that are best left to the professionals.
Cook With Healthy Foods From Your Garden
While flower gardens may be more aesthetically pleasing at first glance, there’s something a little magical about a good vegetable garden. So, how does gardening improve mental health? By not only giving the gardener a space to decompress and be themselves, but by giving them a sense of mastery and comfort. There’s something both wholesome and powerful about growing your own food and so much the better if you can then share that food with loved ones or the community at large.
Sharing food is a wonderful thing and a great way to connect with people. It’s even better if that food is healthy and supportive to the physical body as well. Cooking is also another place where you can enlist the help of a younger family member, perhaps one of your children, so you can bond with them over a shared project.
If you’re going to be cooking a lot with food from your garden, you may want to look into storage solutions so that you can find the best way to use the space in your kitchen cabinets. A simple online search should be more than enough to get you started thinking about all the options you have.
Start a Gardening Club
If you’re looking for more of a community-focused gardening experience, starting a gardening club may be right up your alley. While it may take some time to gain traction, a club is a great way to meet others with the same interests and start growing your own community while enriching the earth, your own lives, and your hometown.
While the specifics will vary according to where you live, most clubs can start up informally with not much more than an outreach post on social media, some banners and signs, and three or four committed members to help get it off the ground. You could all get together and cook with homegrown ingredients, or start a community garden project together. The possibilities are endless!
Running a gardening club may have some unforeseen stresses in the future but with a good team and a lot of community support, you can manage just fine. Find a nice local waterfront restaurant to host your inaugural lunch, and buckle in for your new adventure!
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering, how does gardening improve mental health?, you can see here that there are actually several answers to that question. Gardening provides a sense of peace and a sense of nature in a busy and often times chaotic world. The very act of planning and starting a garden engages us on a creative as well as physical level as we work through the planning and sketching phases all the way to building our first bed or buying our first window box.
How does gardening improve mental health? Gardening connects us back to nature as well as to our friends, family, community, and ourselves. There are so many ways we can engage with gardening and with one another that the possibilities really are endless. Teaching your children about the plants, the seasons, and the growing cycles helps you feel involved in their development, and helps them blossom as well by giving them a window into a world wider than just school and the latest technological innovation.
Simply put, gardening gives us a sense of immediate physical community with others — not just through the internet, but right now, in your own hometown. Community gardens and gardening clubs help foster that sense of connection which boosts mood and can even help people coping with depression and other chronic conditions. How does gardening improve mental health? In every way you can think of. So, get out there and look after your mental health with a dose of dirt.