Do you look forward to getting outside once the weather starts to get warmer? Are you excited to see plants, flowers, and vegetables become available in local stores and farmers markets? 

It’s likely that these signs of spring help to mentally bring you out of a dreary winter feeling, provide hope of renewal and growth, and brighten the prospect of being outside. 

Gardening is an activity that has been enjoyed by people for centuries. Apart from being a way to cultivate fresh produce and beautiful flowers, gardening has several benefits for mental health. ” Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and recognized as the “Father of American Psychiatry,” was first to document the positive effect working in the garden had on individuals with mental illness.”

With increasing concerns over mental health, many people are turning to gardening as a way to improve their well-being. In this post, we’ll explore some of the surprising benefits of gardening on mental health.

Reduces Stress and Anxiety

  1. Gardening is a relaxing activity that can help reduce stress and anxiety. Studies have shown that spending time in a garden can lower cortisol levels, which is the hormone responsible for stress. Gardening also helps people to be present in the moment, which helps to reduce anxious thoughts and promote a sense of calm. Gardening can be considered a mindfulness activity which is a tool used to decrease anxiety and depression. Mindfulness is actually a science, designed to prevent our busy brains from overwhelming us and blocking us from enjoying the little moments of calm that we all deserve.

Boosts Mood and Happiness

2. Gardening has been shown to boost mood and increase feelings of happiness. The act of planting, nurturing, and watching plants grow can provide a sense of accomplishment, which can help to increase self-esteem and confidence. Gardening also releases endorphins, which are natural feel-good chemicals that can help to improve mood. Gardening exposes us to the Sun and Vitamin D. “Vitamin D is also a great way to enhance your internal feel-good factor; it’s a known relief for stress, anxiety and depression.” “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” ~ Audrey Hepburn

Provides a Sense of Purpose

3. Gardening can provide a sense of purpose, especially for people who struggle with depression or other mental health conditions. The act of nurturing a plant and watching it grow can provide a sense of accomplishment and purpose, which can help to improve mood and increase motivation.

Encourages Physical Activity

4. Gardening is a great way to encourage physical activity, which has been shown to have several benefits for mental health. Weeding, digging, and raking are good exercises. Physical activity releases endorphins, which can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Additionally, being outside in nature can help to reduce feelings of depression and improve mood. Self-care activities that include relaxation techniques and movement boost serotonin and activate your nervous system, which elevates mood, decreases depression symptoms and anxiety, along with enhancing motivation.

Improves Social Connection

5. Gardening can also improve social connection and provide a sense of community. Community gardening provides an opportunity to learn more than you already know by asking questions of other gardeners. It is also a great opportunity to be a part of a group and increase your social connection. Research shows that connection supports emotional wellness, and the lack of connection creates loneliness which negatively impacts sleep hygiene, reduces immune and cognitive function, heart disease, and heightens symptoms of depression and anxiety. Sharing tips and experiences with other gardeners can also help to improve knowledge and skills, which can help to boost confidence and self-esteem.

If you live in a small space or don’t have a yard area to grow a garden, consider container gardening on a balcony or deck. There is also a lot of benefit to growing houseplants inside, which offer a good way to clean the air. 

In conclusion, gardening is a beneficial activity for mental health. From reducing stress and anxiety to improving mood and happiness, gardening provides a range of benefits that can help to improve overall well-being. Whether it’s growing herbs on a windowsill or tending to a large garden, everyone can benefit from the positive effects of gardening on mental health.

“We might think we are nurturing our garden, but of course, it’s our garden that is really nurturing us.” – Jenny Uglow