How Gardening can Improve your Mental Health
From the beginning of time, gardening has been a way to grow vegetables and fruits, but it developed to become a way of decorating your house to be more beautiful and livelier. You can even participate in gardening contests, as this activity requires knowledge and skills to grow and maintain healthy plants.
But as lovely as it is to have something to take care of, gardening can benefit your mental health and help you overcome hardships in your life. In this article, we’ll talk about how you can improve your life through gardening, so keep reading!
Can help fight disease
It might sound strange, but going outside for a few minutes a day to take care of your plants can help you fight certain diseases, such as:
- Breast cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Multiple sclerosis
These all have in common the lack of vitamin D, which is an essential component for hundreds of body functions. It helps strengthen your bones and immune system; without them, our bodies would have difficulties growing and adapting to the environment. So, going out to take your Vitamin D dose can prevent some diseases and illnesses, but don’t overexpose yourself in the sun. Otherwise, you might be at risk of skin cancer.
Or, if you want to stay inside but want some plants, you can purchase some flower pots or try balcony planters to create a beautiful ecosystem. You may plant almost anything, for example:
- Herbs for cooking (thyme, sage, rosemary and chives)
- Bedding plants (zinnias, begonias or coleus)
- Fruits (strawberries, raspberries or gooseberries)
- Scented plants (Angel’s trumpet, night phlox and petunia)
- Vegetables (spring onion, tomatoes and runner beans)
You can grab some pots that already have a hole in the bottom for the water to drain, or if you already have pots you don’t want to break, you can put the plants into plastic pots and perforate them, then place them into a bigger and beautiful pot.
On the other hand, if you’re moving frequently or you don’t have enough room for your plants, a planter on wheels is the best choice for you. Such a planter is efficient to save time and avoid breaking your plants from moving around.
It can help protect your memory
You know that our memory isn’t quite reliable at times, and memories that are formed will not always embody reality. But that’s because our minds need to be constantly put to work to make progress ― it’s similar to working out to build muscles. So, you can improve your memory by staying mentally active and socialising, but you can also try gardening, which researchers have found to be beneficial for memory.
Studies found that regular gardening can help ease symptoms in people with dementia. It can help you prevent having memory-related issues, but it can also maintain the mind when you’re older.
It will improve your mood
More people have started to feel stressed in the past years. Specifically, 74% of people worldwide suffered from overwhelming feelings to the point they were unable to cope with them anymore. Stress can negatively influence your body and mind. For example, you might experience:
- Headaches, indigestion, hyperventilation
- Trouble falling asleep, withdrawing from social events, being indecisive and drinking alcohol more than usual
Luckily, gardening can improve your mood and increase your self-esteem. Researchers found out that after a gardening session, the stress hormone cortisol level in our bodies was significantly reduced.
Can help combat addiction
You might’ve heard about horticultural therapy, which has been going on for a while, but it’s not that popular, even if it should be. These programs have certain objectives to help patients fight their addiction and mental issues. Some of them include:
- To learn and practice gardening skills
- To share their expectations of the program and reflect on their thoughts about nature
- To practice mindfulness during the activities
- To learn and practice diaphragmatic breathing exercises
Horticultural therapy helps people gain a sense of accomplishment and meaningfulness in their lives, which is crucial for patients to adopt and practice when they go through darker times. After all, addiction contributes to early death, so this type of therapy can decrease the number of people resorting to addictions when feeling down.
Can foster feelings of connection
Gardening can even make you feel more connected with your family and community. You don’t have to be social to enjoy planting flowers or vegetables in the communal garden. You just have to be open about sharing your passion with other people. You’ll not only learn new things, but you’ll also improve your well-being and create meaningful relationships.
But suppose you want to escape the feeling of loneliness entirely. In that case, you can combine gardening with other activities, like making a YouTube channel about gardening and sharing your hobbies with the world. It can help you connect with people you might never meet, but they’ll appreciate you for your passion. Maybe you weren’t aware, but when the pandemic struck the world, people turned to gardening as a way to cope with their feelings. People have also started to bake and knit, so it’s a sign that hobbies we enjoy can change our lives for the better.
Other benefits of gardening
Besides helping yourself, you can also help the planet because gardening has a positive impact on the environment by:
- Cleaning the air and the ground;
- Preventing soil erosion;
- Reducing carbon footprint;
- Creating an ecosystem for birds and insects.
Bonus tip: how to take care of yourself while gardening
Even if gardening can help improve and maintain your health, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to look after yourself, especially when you have a garden outside the house. So, here’s what you should consider doing:
- Wear protective gear: gloves, long pants and gardening shoes (crocs, boots, clogs).
- Avoid being dehydrated by drinking lots of water.
- Use sunscreen with high levels of SPF to prevent tanning.
- Check the products you’re using on the plants, as some might contain chemicals that are harmful to your health. Choose pesticides, weed killers and fertilisers with natural ingredients and make sure that you’re not allergic to any of the products’ ingredients.
- Learn how to use gardening tools so that you won’t get injured.
In conclusion, you have no reason not to give gardening a try! Even for smaller spaces, having a flower in a pot that you care for will make you more responsible and caring.
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