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:
First, many people believe that proximity to nature can promote feelings of tranquility, which can be replicated in your home, via gardening.
2. The regular, scheduled activity of watering and caring for plants can provide a helpful routine for those who are depressed.
3. Most gardeners find that the very act of caring for something and watching it grow is both rewarding and fulfilling.
4. Some experts believe that fresh air can help prevent Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in young people.
5 Studies have shown that gardening can decrease levels of cortisol, otherwise known as the “stress hormone.”
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. One astonishing study found that daily gardening decreased the incidence of dementia in adults aged 60 years or older by nearly 36 percent.
9. 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?
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I have struggled with Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder since about 12 years of age, that I remember. I was suicidal as a teenager and in my 20's and have been on more medications than i can count. I was also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in my early 30's.
i started gardening about 3 years ago. I am now on only 1 medication, Cymbalta, that controls all of the above and i garden daily. Herbs, fruit, vegetables, flowers, you name it. i moved to Florida a little over 1 year ago and am so happy to be able to garden year round, although i did utilize a greenhouse during PA winters. At 50 years old, I don't remember ever feeling this good for so long. my goal is to open my own garden shop.
My daughter was just awarded her masters degree in family counseling and she was the first one that told me about the mental health benefits of gardening.
Maybe we should think about a dual counseling center and garden center??
Thank you so much for sharing your story. Though I personally have not struggled with depression, I know being able to garden always lifts my spirits and makes me feel great.
I love your idea about a garden/counseling center. It's definitely something to consider.
Enjoy gardening in Florida. I bet you can grow some amazing tomatoes, and there is nothing like a homegrown tomato.
Have a great weekend,
I think that is a great idea! I myself suffer from depression anxiety and bipolar issues with PTSD and rheumatoid arthritis. I have adhd tendencies also. I have been playing in the dirt for years and have always felt great doing anything to do with plants and flowers. I call it my therapy. I too have been on Cymbalta and it helps me but I think I’m needing a change because I have used it for many years now and it’s just not working like it should.anyway thumbs up to you and good luck you have a great idea!!
Thanks Patricia. I think most gardeners agree that working in the dirt is good for the soul. I'm glad to hear that it helps you and wish you the best on your continued good health.
I love gardening! Inside and outside...it improves my overall self....watching it sprout, grow and develop is rewarding....in Kansas, it's a trial....I think I inherited this from my grandmothers...my husband is amazed at all the names of flowers that I know....my sister also has a love of flowers....
Thanks wonderful to hear. I couldn't agree with you more.
Thanks for stopping by,
olga maria colon
Hi! I am from Puerto Rico. For me gardening was my life saving on control my diabetes and to be able to loose 134 pounds. But mostly my great gift from nature is my peace and joy. Watering and take care of my vegetable garden change my whole family and bring back old friends. Try it and you see the results. Thanks!!
This is wonderful to hear. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Have a great gardening week!
You're absolutely right! Thanks for listing these. Makes me grateful my father loves gardening!
I'm pinning this!
Thank you for such a nice comment.
Angie @ Postcards from the Ridge
Thanks for sharing this. Now I'm inspired to get digging in the dirt. If only the rain would hold off (and the heat). Have a great day!
I know what you mean. It's always something. The heat can make it tough and I often think I'll get out in the garden asap in the morning or after dinner but usually something else distracts me from this plan.
Thanks for stopping by,
I was just telling my husband how I could see how gardening could be really good for me. i live in my brain too much and I think that would come me down a bit. Great article!
So true! I am a full time caregiver for my 96 year old Mum and it's the hardest and most stressful and yes, depressing situation I've had to deal with, but one trip to my yard and gardens and everything is wonderful again! I bring Mum out with me , she gets fresh air and listens to the birds and watches the chipmunks and we both are happy!
Being a caregiver is a admiral and exhausting task. I'm so glad to hear that you and your mum are enjoying the beauty of your garden, and I hope that it continues to help lift your spirits for a long time.
Thanks for stopping by,
These details are spot on and I've also noticed that more women seem to gravitate towards gardening. Possibly because it offers many levels of nurturing that are similar to parenting. My grandma made it to 96 and I believe that reflected her dedication to gardening and doing more as long as she could.
Your grandmother sounds awesome and is a testimony to this rewarding passion that you really can do well into your senior years.
Thanks for your insight,