A Guest Post by Chris Barry.
Gardeners have long remarked how being in nature and working hard to nurture something improves their mood and makes them happier. Many studies have been conducted that confirm how gardening can dramatically improve a person’s mental health.
Many people casually refer to gardening as being nothing more than mildly therapeutic or dismiss it as an overly simple remedy to address a complex condition, but these are actual scientific studies conducted at respected universities. And not only can gardening improve mental health, but it improves overall mobility and physical health as well.
So if you’re wondering about the link between pulling weeds and mental stability, read on. We’ll find out exactly what’s gotten mental health researchers so excited.
1. Provides A Sense of Purpose and Responsibility
When you have something to nurture and take care of, you become more of a responsible person in general. Gardening requires focus, patience, and a lot of responsibility. Forgetting to water or place a certain plant in the right location can cause it to no longer thrive. This sense of purpose Gardening provides an opportunity to take your mind off things you can’t control, and start focusing on the aspects that you can.
2. Brings You Closer to Nature
For a variety of reasons, the amount of time most urbanites spend outdoors (outside of running errands) is a lot less than it was only a few generations ago.
Yet a daily dose of vitamin D, naturally derived from the sun along with plenty of fresh air to breathe, is one of the best ways to alleviate stress.
Being cooped up indoors can wreak havoc on a person’s mental and physical well-being. The significant benefits that come from being close to the soil and in the sun amongst the plants in your garden are plentiful.
If you don’t have a garden of your own, most urbanized areas have community gardens. A sense of community paired with gardening will be an even stronger means of treating and hopefully eliminating anxiety and depression.
3. Helps Deal with the Stresses of Illnesses
It’s extremely common for people dealing with long-term or chronic sicknesses such as cancer, infertility, or grief to face mental health struggles.
Gardening is a helpful way for people who are sick to deal with feelings of depression and anxiety that often accompany other illnesses.
Gardening allows people to take their minds off being sick and engage in something positive. Those who garden also eat what they grow – food which tends to be healthier than what they might be eating otherwise.
4. Tending to Life Will Improve Your Life
The process of creating life provides a feeling of accomplishment like nothing else.
One of the most common mental health issues is an obsessive-compulsive mentality that creates negative thought patterns. The process of gardening makes it easier to distract the mind from such thoughts.
Connecting with the natural world and getting closer to the earth also creates perspective. In many ways, gardening serves as a daily reminder that you are never truly alone in the universe.
And even when you fail to successfully grow a certain crop or plant, you always have another chance to do better the next time. Gardening may test your patience, but it will always pay off in the long run.
5. Prevents and Treats ADHD
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the number of children aged between four and 17 who suffer from Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has increased by 42% over the last eight years.
Fortunately, studies have also proven that the benefits of gardening can combat ADD as well. While serious cases of ADHD also typically require medical treatment, pairing the medicine with gardening will only improve a patient’s condition that much more.
The CDC also states that just 2.5 hours of moderate to intense activity a week can reduce the risks of high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes, stroke, depression, colon cancer, premature death, and osteoporosis. The CDC further acknowledges gardening constitutes the perfect level of minimum physical activity required to maintain optimum health. Paired with a healthy diet and lifestyle, adding gardening into your routine will do wonders for your overall health.
It’s Time to Dig Out Those Gloves!
In conclusion, if you ever feel like you’re starting to lose control of your emotions, gardening can and will help level you out.
Although there’s no way to fully take control of the mysteries and challenges life throws at you, at least with a hobby like gardening you’ll be better equipped to know how to react.
It’s no surprise that so many counselors and psychologists recommend gardening as a choice activity to improve mental health.
Even if your mental health is rock solid stable, adding gardening into your life will only serve to make you a calmer, happier person.
About Chris Barry: Chris is a freelance writer. In a former life, he fronted the 222s (one of Monetreal’s first punk rock bands) and now writes across a divese array of topics.