By now, you’ve probably heard about some of the basic advantages of gardening. Gardening on a consistent basis provides a great source of physical activity and exposure to nature. Additionally, consuming the produce you’ve grown in your garden nourishes your body, and is cost efficient. Alongside these fundamental reasons for maintaining a garden are some deeper and more surprising reasons. Research continues to support the notion that gardening can actually improve your mental health.
Want to discover the specific, evidence-based ways that gardening can improve mental health? Here are just a few of the conditions on which gardening has been shown to have an impact.
One of the most devastating mental health conditions to see and suffer from is dementia. Dementia is a progressive decline in one’s cognitive abilities. Symptoms of dementia include an impairment of memory, communication (verbal and written), reasoning, and more. However, there are numerous research supported ways to prevent dementia symptoms at any age. Eating a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables, reducing your stress levels, and learning new skills are all ways that you can decrease your risk of dementia. How is gardening relevant to these techniques? Gardening is a single activity that can help achieve each of these goals. Not only can you grow the produce you consume as part of a healthy diet, but gardening can also be a relaxing activity. Also, whether you’re a novice gardener or an expert, there is always something new that you can learn when gardening.
Depression and anxiety
Worldwide, recent figures from the World Health Organisation show that approximately 350 million people experience depression. Additionally, a recent Psychiatric Morbidity Survey revealed that 6 million individuals in the UK are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Those who experience either or both conditions can use gardening as a way to improve their symptoms. How? In addition to the physical exercise associated with gardening, there are specific fruits, vegetables, and other plants that can improve anxiety and depression. Lavender, chamomile, oregano, and blue potatoes are just a few of the plants that have been shown to help improve symptoms.
What is the specific impact of gardening on mental health? The Telegraph reports that 88% of people experience positive mental wellbeing as a benefit of gardening. Additional studies have shown that having green space (including a garden) results in higher self-reported levels of good mental health across socio-economic groups in the UK.
Additionally, Psychology Today discusses a few more theories about why gardening helps mental health:
- The peace and tranquility of being in nature helps individuals to relax and to practice mindfulness.
- Working in the garden releases serotonin and dopamine (which boosts one’s mood)
- Coristol levels are also controlled when surrounded by nature which decreases stress levels.
Can gardening actually improve your mental health?
While it is not the cure for the mental health conditions discussed above, research continues to show strong evidence that gardening can prevent or improve mental health problems. From the consumption of vitamin and mineral rich produce, to the learning of new gardening skills, to the peaceful time spent working and relaxing in nature, gardening is full of proven benefits for mental health. Young or old, the wonderful gifts offered by a simple backyard garden can provide a lifelong impact.