gardening for mental health; psychology of gardening; why is gardening so therapeutic

Key Benefits of Gardening for Mental Health

Think about the busyness of life, the many times you spend indoors, either at work or caring for the family at home. Sometimes, all this can be overwhelming, leading to anxiety, stress, or even depression

But you can protect yourself or heal from mental breakdowns by connecting with nature. 

And because you may not always have time to go camping in the wild or take a walk in the park, why don’t you try gardening? Yes, planting your garden at home can keep you from life’s stressors!

So hereunder, we shall go through the benefits of gardening for mental health in detail. Also, we shall see the right ways of gardening for therapeutic gains.

Mental Health Benefits of Gardening

Here are the top ten mental health benefits you will reap from gardening:

1. Stress reduction

Spending time in your garden or at a community garden is a great way to release stress

It feels great being surrounded by beautiful plants, soil in your hands, the sun watching over you, or the clouds sagging with rain ready to water your garden.

So, ensure you spend some moments in a garden. Witness the fruits ripen, watch the wind blow on your plants and you, cut some flowers, water the plants, remove the weeds or prune the plants.

All this will help distract you from your usual activities and allow you to experience something new and refreshing.

2. Boosting immunity

Getting dirty in your garden can help boost your immunity. But how? You see, soil contains some friendly microbes.

So, when you regularly expose yourself to these microbes, you improve your immunity, thus lowering your risk of diseases. And, you agree with me that any disease can affect your mental wellbeing.

3. Exercising

Think about each physical activity you do when creating and maintaining a garden; walking, stretching, carrying heavy bags of soil, mulch, compost, fertilizer, water, and the harvest – this is quite a workout.

Other activities you do in your green space include weeding and raking, and all of these can help you shed some calories.

Physically active people rarely get heart diseases, diabetes, or cancer. Additionally, several studies indicate that working in the garden can help lower the risk of dementia by 36%.

4. Gardening will make your kids eat better

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Gardening side by side with your kids will make them love eating what you harvest together. Kids will appreciate how seeds germinate and the care given to the plants. Also, they will witness the crops mature and finally be glad to eat what they have labored for.

So, ensure your kids participate in your gardening activities instead of always serving them strange food they hardly have any relationship with.

5. Practicing acceptance

Gardening helps you practice acceptance. Imagine how plants grow; despite caring for them, you still don’t have 100% control over them.

For example, you can’t dictate the size of fruits; you can’t control the weather; your neighbor might spray a weed killer on her plants on a windy day and destroy your plants too. Also, you can’t plant edible plants today and expect to harvest the next day, and so on.

In the same manner, you should accept the fact that you don’t have 100% control over your life.

It would be best to acknowledge that you are not perfect and that your life is in bigger hands than yours. This way, you can work on what you are best at and leave the rest with your maker to help you.

6. Developing a growth mindset

The mistakes you make in gardening don’t mean failure but an opportunity to learn better ways of doing things.

For example, you might have seeded wrongly, resulting in overcrowded seedlings that are hard to separate when transferring them to the garden bed. This shouldn’t make you feel like a failure. Instead, you should learn from your current seeding mistake and improve in the next one.

So, gardening mistakes will teach you not to stress yourself over other mistakes you make in life – mistakes offer a learning platform.

7. Connecting with others

Gardening lets you meet your fellow gardeners, e.g., in the horticultural shows or on social media gardening groups. This way, you can learn new ways of gardening; or how to improve on your current practices. Also, networking distracts you from worries as you share your experiences with fellow gardeners.

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8. Connecting with the surroundings

Each gardening session helps you connect with your surroundings. For example, you get to know the status of your soil, like when to do crop rotation; you familiarize yourself with seasons like the rainy and sunny seasons; you learn how to eliminate the current pest intrusions, and so on.

9. Mental focus and mindfulness

The main characteristic of mindfulness is simplicity; you start by noticing what is surrounding you and shifting your focus from stressful thoughts.

One of the mindfulness activities you can carry out when in the garden includes exercising your five senses; for example,

  1. Start by noticing things in the sky like birds or crowds
  2. Feel the surroundings, e.g., the texture of leaves
  3. Hear things, e.g., the singing of the birds
  4. Smell the herbs, flowers, or other plants in the garden
  5. Taste something in the garden, e.g., fruits

10. Eating healthily

One of the best things about having a garden is that you can always enjoy fresh foods that can positively impact your mental health.

How to Do Gardening to Relieve Stress Levels

Here are the basics of gardening for better mental health.

‣ Keep it simple

Starting a garden for the first time might feel overwhelming, but the best thing will be to start small and simple. Be realistic about the effort and time you can comfortably invest in gardening. The last thing you would ever want is to get stressed over what is supposed to help relieve your stress.

‣ Unplug from the world

When it’s time to go to the garden, leave everything else behind you. Don’t weed your garden, and at the same time, you are on social media. In short, disconnect yourself from everything else when working in your garden.

‣ Stress-reducing designs

Get creative in the garden. Bring in the plants you love most and design the garden in a manner that appeals to you greatly.

‣ Live in the moment

There is so much you can do or see in the garden instead of dwelling on stressful occurrences or thoughts. So, allow yourself to live in the now and not in some disturbing moments that passed.

Look at the birds, feel the cool breeze or smell the soil and vegetation. Notice every small detail in your garden; the ants digging their homes and the patterns on the leaves.

Concentrating on the now in your garden can help get you away from every stressful moment.

Therapeutic garden benefits; indoor healing garden

‣ Get down and dirty

Don’t be afraid of pulling those weeds with your bare hands or kneeling in the garden to support a bent branch. So, set aside time regularly to get fully active in the garden.

Before You Go

Gardening can help improve many aspects of your mental health, such as enhancing focus, concentration span, mood, self-esteem, creativity, memory retention, happiness, and vitamin D absorption.

Additionally, focusing on your garden activities will help you turn your back on negative thoughts and feelings, thus making you feel better. 

Wondering which plants to start with? I suggest herbs since most of them are easy to grow. Here is an article I have written on that: A Beginners Guide To Growing Herbs Indoors.

Resources

  1. Gardening and stress management
  2. Health benefits of gardening
  3. A regular dose of gardening
  4. Why gardening will make you feel better and how to get the most out of it
  5. The benefits of gardening to your mental health
  6. Mindfulness in the garden
  7. Impact of gardening on your mental health
  8. Why gardening is essential for your mental health
  9. Gardening in Detroit – Physical and mental impact
  10. Mental health and exposure to nature
Robert Silver

Robert Silver

Robert Silver is a writer, speaker and certified master gardener who has been sharing his landscaping experiences through personal blogs. Taking it to the next level, Robert Silver has come up with this progardeningblog.com to shine a light on new planters and experts, discussing plants, landscape projects and much more. He has published numerous research articles on horticulture that have helped many people attain fruitful outcomes.