Gardening for our health and wellbeing
How gardening can have a positive impact on our health and wellbeing
Gardening is good for us. It has been shown that gardening and being in nature can improve our lives for the better, in all sorts of ways. And with gardening being so accessible, it means that anyone can benefit, even if in a small way, from the positive impacts that it can have on our mental, physical and social wellbeing.
Gardening means different things to different people. Gardening could be your hobby, your livelihood or your lifeline to feeling better. Some people garden for wildlife or the environment, some people grow their own food to live a more sustainable life, for some it’s an income stream and to others, it could be a whole combination of factors.
Gardening for physical and mental health
Everyone knows that exercise is good for you. But not everyone knows that gardening can be a great form of exercise too. There are so many different tasks to be carried out in the garden throughout the whole year that it can mean a whole workout for people who possibly don’t want to visit a gym.
By getting regular and moderate exercise, it not only benefits our bodies, but it can lessen depression and feelings of anxiety. It can lower our heart rate and make us think clearer, reducing any anger and stress that we may be feeling. It can release chemicals, such as serotonin, that not only make us feel better, but enhance our cognitive functions.
Studies have shown that gardening can significantly reduce instances of depression and anxiety and improve social functioning, as well slow the decline in cognitive functioning. It has so many broad benefits that doctors have been prescribing gardening to patients as an alternative to, or in addition to, medication.
You don’t have to have a big garden to benefit either. Even the smallest of gardens, pots on a balcony or a garden in the local community, can help you to have a connection with the outdoors and nature. Even a window looking out onto a green space, where a person can watch birds feeding, can have a massively positive impact on their mental health and help them to feel connected to nature.
Socially, gardening within a community or group can combat feelings of loneliness that some people may experience. Gardening is so accessible to us all and for some, it can lead on to other opportunities, such as work or study.
Gardening for mindfulness
With the advent and rise in mindfulness, there is nothing so mindful as gardening. Getting your hands into the soil and looking after your plants, nurturing them from seeds, can be very meditative in itself.
The act of gardening takes you out of your mind and teaches you to focus on what you’re doing in the present moment, reducing your heart rate and improving your mood. Focussing on the moment alleviates feelings of stress and anxiety, releases serotonin, making us feel happier and ultimately boosting our immune system.
Gardening for a healthier lifestyle
Growing your own food is very satisfying. The process of sowing vegetable seeds, growing on the seedlings and planting them out, all the way to harvesting and eating the vegetables, is not only something to feel proud of, but is also a cheaper and sustainable way of life.
Growing your own food reduces food miles, so is good for the environment. But by being self-sufficient, there are some very healthy benefits.
Not just from the amount of satisfaction you can get from it, which will alleviate low moods and stress, but eating more vegetables means a healthier lifestyle and evidence has shown that a bad diet can also contribute to depression and anxiety. And as mentioned earlier, being active and outside in the fresh air has very broad benefits to our minds and bodies.
The healing nature
The healing nature of gardens and gardening, feeling connected to nature and being outdoors, cannot be overstated.
Gardening has been proven to alleviate signs of depression and anxiety, aggression and feelings of anger, helps our concentration by teaching us to focus on the moment and reduces the need for medication. It can combat loneliness, help with dementia and cognitive functions, boost our moods and improve our diets.
Leading an active lifestyle can only be beneficial to us, but creating and maintaining a garden, whether your own or within a community, is also something to be proud of, increasing our self-esteem and wellbeing. And what’s not to love about that.