It’s probably not news to anyone that getting outside for some fresh air and sunshine can do you the world of good. But now more than ever, amidst a worldwide pandemic and plenty of anxiety-inducing news, people are rediscovering the merits of gardening. Not only is the simple act of growing something hugely rewarding, there’s the added benefit of enjoying a lovely harvest of fresh fruit and veg, or a stunning floral display.
Here’s a quick look at why gardening can be so good for our physical and mental health.
Gardening reduces stress
Gardening has been scientifically proven to be good for the mind. Firstly, it provides something else to focus on, keeping the mind occupied and away from negative thoughts. In addition, investing the time and energy to make something grow and seeing the results of your efforts is a great antidote to the fast-paced world of today.
New studies have also shown that gardening could make people physically happy because of bacteria. Most of the time, people associate bacteria with disease and negative health implications. But there are plenty of good bacteria out there too, and M. vaccae is one of those. Digging around in the dirt releases the bacteria that live in the soil, and inhaling it can lead to increased serotonin levels. This could well be one of the reasons we feel better as a result of having direct contact with nature in soil form!
Gardening improves physical health
While there are plenty of mental health benefits, studies have found that gardening can be good for people’s physical health too. Of course, it makes sense that the physical activities associated with gardening can help to keep you healthy. It may not be the most strenuous exercise most of the time (unless you’re digging a sizeable patch), but it still counts as exercise.
All of that digging, bending, and stretching improves strength and flexibility, as well as blood circulation. On top of that, the decrease in stress and anxiety associated with gardening can have positive health effects. Releasing tension can lead to lower blood pressure, decreased risk of heart disease, and decreased risk of obesity. Not to mention the healthy dose of vitamin D you get from spending time outdoors.
When it comes to kids, teaching them a love for gardening can be especially helpful for their health. Studies have shown that early exposure to dirt and the common bacteria it contains can have numerous health benefits.
Gardening can be a solo or social hobby
Whether you need some alone time, or crave the company of others, gardening is a good option.
Spending time on your own is sometimes the best way to unwind and step away from the to do list. Gardening is well-suited to providing a calm environment in which to do just that. Nurturing plants or developing a patch of land is a great way to give yourself a break and grab some much-needed downtime.
On the flip side, gardening can be a hugely enjoyable shared hobby. You can get friends or family involved, and gardening with children is a fantastic way to encourage those green fingers from an early age. Gardening also provides an opportunity to connect with your local community via a horticultural society, or simply a plant swap with the neighbours.
Gardening is rewarding
While not everyone wants to grow their own herbs or vegetables, the simple act of seeing a plant grow and thrive can be very rewarding. But those who opt to grow food or even medicinal plants get the extra reward of the literal fruits of their labour.
Growing your own fruit and veg has the added benefit that it provides you with control over the food you eat. You can avoid unnecessary pesticides and the environmental impact that transporting and storing produce involves. Plus, it can be much cheaper to grow your own, making it a rewarding option from a financial perspective too.
While gardening may be relaxing, there are still things that can cause the stress levels to creep back up. If you’re researching or buying new plants or tools online, for instance, make sure to use a VPN.
VPNs encrypt an online connection so hackers and other parties can’t snoop and steal credit card numbers or other information.
Other simple things you can do to keep gardening a positive experience include checking for toxic ingredients on things like plant food and pest control products, resisting the urge to overdo it physically, and always having a budget in mind before you head to the garden centre!
Has this inspired you to head outdoors and get stuck in with some gardening? What aspect of gardening provides the biggest benefit for you?