5 ways that gardening can improve your mental health
Here are five ways that gardening can improve your mental health and the benefits you can gain by enjoying the great outdoors
It reconnects you with nature
Michelle Polk, Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Expert at Polk Puncture, says... 'As an acupuncturist and herbalist, I often see clients come through the door utterly exhausted and disconnected. It may sound strange, how can a person with access to the internet, Facebook, Netflix and Skype feel disconnected? You can literally call your best friend who lives thousands of miles away, anytime you want, in your pajamas, while eating rocky road ice-cream. What a dream! However, connection through technology is not the same as our connection to nature! In fact, the ancient Chinese believed in order to be healthy and prevent illness, we needed to sustain our relationship with nature. I often tell clients that in order to regain health, it's important to reconnect with the the outdoors; go on a hike, go to the mountains, or garden! Nature provides us with the grounding, connection, and satisfaction we need to sustain our thriving, happy selves. In fact, science agrees, we need nature!' Plus, some research on this... Michelle continues, 'Study after study has shown how beneficial gardening is to our health and well-being, and the research keeps on coming. Gardening has been shown to reduce stress, improve self-esteem, cut stroke and heart attack risk by 30%, improve hand strength and dexterity, and in one study has been shown to represent the single biggest risk reduction in dementia, reducing incidence by 36%!'
It relieves stress
Josh Duvauchelle, a Life Coach, regularly teaches people about how a healthy lifestyle can be their gateway to a happier life. He says... 'An almost 20-year-long study found that seniors who garden have a lower risk of dementia than seniors who don't garden.' (Lifestyle factors and risk of dementia: Dubbo Study of the elderly Leon A Simons, Judith Simons, John McCallum and Yachiel Friedlander. Med J Aust 2006.) This research provided by Life Coach Josh just shows what a huge impact gardening can have on your mental health and how something as simple as spending a few hours in the gardening can actually prolong your life. Duvauchelle then continues to discuss how gardening can also help to reduce stress, 'In one study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20522508?report=abstract), researchers had two groups of people do two relaxing activities: gardening or reading a book. They found that after 30 minutes of gardening, levels of the stress hormone cortisol dropped significantly in those who were working the soil!'
It helps people who struggle with movement
Kate Hofmann, from Amigo Mobility who are always looking for accessible activities for people with walking limitations, says... 'We’ve found gardening to be a great lifelong and accessible activity for people who are slowing down due to age or have disabilities. Many activities become more difficult as people age, but with the help of a raised gardening bed, it can be a way to help people stay active despite mobility limitations.'
It opens channels for honest communication with children
Gardening is good for communicating with your children.
Anthony Smith, from Nursery Enterprises, says... 'Kids naturally love to work with their hands, use gardening tools, dig and get dirty, and harvest delicious food. But gardening also helps to teach children important life lessons, like the importance of maintaining things (watering, weeding, and combating pests). And the lessons taught by experience will penetrate far deeper than mere words. Gardening also fosters more and better quality communication. Working side by side with children gives you time to bond, removing barriers to open and honest communication. Since the child won't perceive this as a formal interrogation, he/she is more likely to lower his defenses, speak with candor, and accept your input.' So why not try getting out in the garden with the children more this summer? It can be a fantastic way to not only enjoy time with your kids but to also have an extra pair of hand in the garden!
It improves social skills
Jane Dobbs, who works for Gardeners Services London, says... 'Spending time among people can also improve someone's ability to make friends and develop his/hers social skills. Gardening also broadens one's knowledge and helps acquire new skills, which can improve the chances of finding a job. If you spend a lot of time in the garden, you can develop your sensory system - all the colours, aromas and textures can develop your sight, smell, touch and hearing reflexes. This makes gardening especially suitable for young children as it helps develop their senses and imagination.'
5 ways that gardening improves your mental health:
- It reconnects you with nature, which helps you to feel healthy and more in touch with the world.
- It relieves stress and can help you to maintain a healthy brain.
- Helps people who struggle with movement.
- Opens barriers so you can enjoy better communication with your children.
- Improves social skills.
These are just some of the ways that it can improve your mental health, but overall, just getting out into the garden to enjoy a spot of gardening is beneficial for everyone. A garden building provides the perfect place to create your own sanctuary away from the stresses of everyday life. If you're looking for a way to spend more time in your garden, a potting shed is a great first step into the world of gardening. If you enjoyed this post then we think you will love our post on '9 reasons why we should spend more time outside.