Learn about the many ways gardening can help improve your mental health, including personal accounts and scientific studies.
Everyone knows that a little bit of physical activity each day is vital to your health and happiness, but when it comes to gardening, there may be even more health-related reasons to get out there in the dirt.
How Gardening Improves Mental Health
Gardening, spending time around plants, and getting fresh air can have a positive effect on your mental health – sharpening the mind, decreasing stress, and much more. Perhaps when you are watering your plants, you are nourishing yourself, too.
Here are just a few of the popularly known mental benefits, either anecdotal or studied, to gardening:
- Many people believe that proximity to nature can promote feelings of tranquility, which can be replicated in your home, via gardening.
- The regular, scheduled activity of watering and caring for plants can provide helpful routine for those who are depressed.
- Most gardeners find that the very act of caring for something and watching it grow is both rewarding and fulfilling.
- Some experts believe that fresh air can help prevent Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in young people.
- Studies have shown that gardening can decrease levels of cortisol, otherwise known as the “stress hormone.”
- Other studies indicate that there may be health benefits to Mycobacterium vaccae – a type of bacteria found in soil – including antidepressant effects and decreased anxiety.
- The CDC reports that the activity associated with gardening can reduce the risk of depression – as well as obesity, heart disease, and other physical problems.
- One astonishing study found that daily gardening decreased the incidence of dementia in adults aged 60 years or older by nearly 36 percent.
- Finally, a Harvard study found that women who live in homes “surrounded by more vegetation” live longer, at a mortality rate that is 12 percent lower than their counterparts.
Whether or not you struggle with mental health, one thing is for sure: gardening even more can’t hurt. Have you found that gardening has improved your mental or physical health?