Too often do we overlook the simplest things that can have a positive impact on our mental health. People look to self-medicate or seek prescriptions from psychologists to manage mental health disorders. Some people require medication to function, but not everyone wants to tread that path, and they don’t have to. There are many things people can do to maintain mental wellness, and one of the best ways to do so is via gardening.
Researchers determined that spending time outside and in nature is good for the psyche. We’re almost positive that you’ve experienced this on several occasions. A wave of calm comes over you when you start hiking through the forest or when your feet sink into the sand at the beach. You forget about the stressors of life and become present in the moment. The same can be said when you immerse yourself in gardening. In fact, many psychologists often encourage their patients to work in gardens to counteract stress or anxiety.
How Does Gardening Improve Mental Health?
According to mental health professionals, gardening has short-term and long-term benefits. People with anxiety and depression report that gardening helps improve both chronic and acute symptoms. Researchers believe that gardening’s positive impact on mental health disorders is due to the element of nature, which reels us in and keeps our attention without strain. You have to focus hard to input data in a spreadsheet, right? Gardening doesn’t demand that same focus, but you remain focused on what you are doing nonetheless. It’s a form of therapy, if you will.
The Effects Of Gardening On The Mind And Body
The combination of physical activity, the connection with nature, and sunlight is the perfect trifecta for improving mental health. Depending on the intensity of the gardening, it may improve cardiovascular strength. It takes a lot of work to dig, rake, mow the lawn, or trim the hedges. During the COVID-19 pandemic, inactivity is responsible for declining health and weight gain. Being outside and gardening can counteract that inactivity and help take your mind off the current state of the stressful world. Continue reading to see how gardening can further improve your health.
People are distracted all the time, especially by their phones. They have to read the latest email or see the most up-to-date posts on social media. Gardening erases the distractions of life and forces you to be present, which improves your ability to become more mindful in life. Whether you are pruning, weeding, or digging, gardening requires you to focus on the task at hand, putting aside your worries and need to stay connected.
Whether you have a small garden bed or a terraced area with a variety of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs, spending time in your garden is a great way to relieve stress. One study examined the moods of people who worked at computers and then gardened. People dramatically reduced stress levels when they gardened, proving that less time in front of a screen is beneficial for mental health. Many researchers connect gardening’s ability to reduce stress levels to the Japanese concept of forest bathing. This practice forces the person to immerse his or herself in natural landscapes. Forest bathing has improved the recovery of people with anxiety, depression, and surgery.
Improving Your Mindset
Gardening is all about trial and error, success and failure. You have to constantly adapt and learn how to optimize the growth of your plants, be that via soil improvement, watering times, sunlight exposure, and pest control. When you garden, you have the opportunity to improve your growth mindset. Things will not always work out in your garden, and you acknowledge these moments as learning opportunities, as opposed to failures. This helps you approach life’s obstacles in the same way. You have to make mistakes in order to learn other valid ways to tackle the task at hand, and the same goes for gardening.
Many people want to garden so that they can eat what they grow. The food you grow doesn’t contain all those pesticides and genetically modified organisms that most inorganic store bought produce contains. Additionally, people who eat more fruits and vegetables are 35% less likely to experience depression, when compared to people who eat minimal amounts of fruits and vegetables. The link between a healthy diet and improved mental health is stronger than people realize. Eating unhealthy, processed foods can increase your risk of anxiety, stress, and depression. Keep growing your food and eating it to maintain optimal mental well-being.