Today we have the pleasure of a guest post from Maria Cannon, from Hobbyjr.org. Maria contacted me last month and was keen to share her story and experiance of the benefits of working in the garden. I really enjoyed her post and I hope you do to. Happy gardening.
Gardening is more than a way to boost your home’s curb appeal or get a few extra fresh veggies into your diet. Gardening is a time-honored tradition that connects us to the land and ourselves in more ways than you realize. Here are six reasons you should start gardening today — your mental health will thank you.
1. It’s a Stress-Reliever
An afternoon spent in the garden has all the ingredients for reducing your stress. Sunlight boosts serotonin production in the body and wards off depression. Physical activity swaps stress and anxiety for a more relaxed state of mind. Even the soil plays a part: Bacterium found in healthy soil have actually been shown to trigger serotonin production in humans.
2. It Helps You Unwind
After a day at the office or chasing after children at home, nothing sounds better than turning your brain off to unwind. Instead of sitting in front of the television only to regret those wasted hours later on, get your relaxation in the garden. The rhythmic, repetitive tasks of gardening are the perfect way to banish anxiety and clear your mind.
3. It Gets Your Body Moving
Gardening may not be strenuous exercise, but it’s still active enough to get your blood pumping. And getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day is as good for your mind as it is for your body. Exercise relieves stress and anxiety as it promotes a sense of well-being because it triggers the release of feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. That equals better moods, sounder sleep, and resilience in the face of mental illness.
4. It Boosts Creativity
There’s nothing like the 9-to-5 grind to stifle creativity. The cure? Time in nature, according to scientists. Exposure to natural settings gives our overworked brains a chance to rest and makes us more creative, more focused, and better problem-solvers. Unfortunately, a 40-hour work week also means finding time to escape to the wilderness isn’t easy. But with a garden oasis right outside your backdoor, the restorative effects of nature are available any time you’re feeling overwhelmed.
5. It Helps You Concentrate
With so many things happening around us all the time, it’s a wonder we can get anything done at all. Focus must contend with text messages, chatty co-workers, buzzing copiers, demanding bosses (or demanding children), ringing phones, social media, and all the mindless distraction the internet has to offer. All this stimuli causes what researchers have dubbed directed attention fatigue. Directed attention fatigue happens when your brain is exhausted from trying to focus in spite of constant distraction, and it can make you stressed out, forgetful, and prone to poor decisions. Spending just 20 minutes in a natural setting like a garden is the best way to rest your brain and restore concentration and memory.
6. It Makes You Happier
All of this together equals one big benefit: Spending time in the garden makes you happier. When you’re less stressed and more focused, you enjoy stable moods and better relationships with others. You have the creativity to inspire your passions and the energy to pursue them. Best of all, you feel better about yourself, which is the most important ingredient for long-term mental health.
The next time you’re feeling overworked, stressed out, and burnt out, don’t turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Emotional eating, compulsive shopping, or self-medicating might help you relax in the short-term, but they’ll only leave you feeling worse when the high wears off. Instead, turn to gardening as an effective self-care strategy that nourishes mind, body, and soul.
Image via Unsplash