Growing Wellness: How Gardening Can Benefit Your Mental Health
Gardening is a fantastic activity for your mental health. It has been proven to reduce stress, increase positive feelings, and improve overall well-being. Research by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) found that living with a regular view of a green space provides health benefits worth £300 per person per year.
This article explores the many ways in which gardening can benefit your mental health, as well as providing practical tips and advice to help you get the most out of your gardening experience. Whether you're just green or an experienced green thumb, we'll provide you with all the guidance you need to maximise your hobby and reap the mental health benefits.
The benefits of gardening on mental health
Research has shown spending time with plants and being in outdoor environments can have a positive impact on our mental wellbeing.
1. Reducing Stress and Anxiety
Firstly, plants themselves have the ability to reduce stress and anxiety. Simply being around greenery and natural elements has a calming effect on our minds. This can help to lower our heart rate and blood pressure, leading to a greater sense of relaxation and tranquillity.
2. Physical Calming of your Body
Gardening can be a low-intensity exercise and mindfulness practice. Digging, planting, and weeding all require physical effort, which can help to release endorphins and improve our mood. Focusing on the act of tending to plants and being present in the moment can serve as a meditative practice, towards mindfulness.
3. Boost your Mood to Fight Depression
Sometimes, the British weather can put a downer on your spirits. Being outdoors and connecting with the natural world can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve your self-esteem, and boost overall mood.
4. Gardening with Friends
Finally, gardening can also provide social benefits. Joining a gardening community or participating in group gardening activities can make you less lonely or feel isolated, especially if you live alone or away from family.
With so many benefits, no matter the weather, gardening could be your solution to a happier, healthier life. So why not grab your trowel and get gardening for the sake of your mental well-being?
How plants can reduce stress and anxiety
The National Institute for Health Research found that people who spend time in the garden report better physical and mental health levels than those who do not . More interestingly, the specific health benefits were similar to those of the wealthiest and poorest countries, suggesting a multitude of long-term benefits for life expectancy.
Research has shown that plants have a remarkable ability to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Being in the presence of greenery and natural elements has a calming effect on our minds, helping to lower heart rate and blood pressure. Just imagine the feeling of sitting in a peaceful garden, surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers, feeling the weight of the world melt away. It's like a natural therapy for the soul.
The Natural Environment Survey shows a positive correlation of improved wellbeing based on people's reported contact with the natural world, including parks and fields.
But how do plants actually have this effect on our mental well-being? Well, studies have found that simply looking at plants can induce a relaxation response in our bodies, releasing endorphins and promoting a sense of tranquillity. The colour green is particularly soothing to the eye and is often associated with feelings of calmness and harmony. It's no wonder that so many meditation and relaxation apps use nature sounds and imagery to create a peaceful atmosphere.
Furthermore, plants have the incredible ability to purify the air, removing toxins and releasing oxygen. Breathing in clean air has a direct impact on our mental health, improving our mood and cognitive function. So, by filling your living space with plants, you're not only creating a beautiful environment but also promoting better mental wellbeing.
The Global Centre for Clean Air Research at the University of Surrey, reported trees and hedges reduced pollution by diverting, diluting or capturing pollutants. Small leaves, high foliage and either evergreen or semi-evergreen varieties were best.
Whether it's a small potted plant on your desk or a full-fledged garden in your backyard, surrounding yourself with plants is a simple yet effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. So, why not bring a little bit of nature into your life and let the plants work their magic on your mental well-being?
Gardening as a form of exercise and mindfulness practice
Gardening is not just a hobby; it's also a great way to incorporate exercise and mindfulness into your daily routine. When you're out in the garden, digging, planting, and weeding, you're engaging in physical activity that can help release endorphins and improve your mood. Plus, being active in the fresh air and sunlight is beneficial for both your physical and mental well-being. It's a win-win situation!
But gardening is more than just exercise. It can also serve as a form of mindfulness practice. When you're tending to your plants, you're fully present in the moment, focusing on the task at hand. This helps to quiet the mind and bring a sense of calm and tranquillity. As you engage with nature, you become more in tune with your surroundings, and the worries of the day seem to fade away.
So, the next time you're in the garden, take a moment to appreciate the physical effort you're putting in and the mental clarity it brings. Gardening is not only good for your plants, but it's also good for your body and mind. Embrace it as a form of exercise and mindfulness practice, and reap the numerous benefits it has to offer.
The positive effects of exposure to nature on mental wellbeing
Being exposed to nature has a multitude of positive effects on our mental well-being. Spending time in natural environments, whether it be a lush green forest or a peaceful garden, has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Being in nature allows us to disconnect from the demands of daily life and connect with the beauty and serenity of the natural world.
Exposure to nature has also been found to improve our self-esteem and boost our overall mood. It provides us with a sense of awe and wonder, reminding us of the vastness and beauty of the world beyond ourselves. This can help to put our own worries and problems into perspective, leading to a greater sense of contentment and happiness.
Furthermore, being in nature encourages physical activity and promotes a healthy lifestyle. Whether it's going for a walk in the park or tending to plants in the garden, being outdoors encourages movement and can improve our physical fitness. This, in turn, has a positive impact on our mental health, as regular exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
The social benefits of gardening
Gardening isn't just a solitary activity – it can also provide numerous social benefits that contribute to better mental health. Joining a gardening community or participating in group gardening activities allows you to connect with like-minded individuals who share your love for plants and nature. By engaging with others who have similar interests, you can form meaningful connections and combat feelings of loneliness or isolation.
Being part of a gardening community provides opportunities for social interaction, whether it's attending workshops, joining gardening clubs, or volunteering at community gardens. These activities not only allow you to learn from experienced gardeners and exchange knowledge and tips, but they also create a sense of belonging and camaraderie. The shared experience of nurturing plants and working together towards a common goal fosters a supportive and uplifting environment.
In addition, gardening can also provide a platform for social activism and community engagement. Many urban gardens focus on sustainable practices, organic gardening, and food security. By participating in such initiatives, you contribute to creating a greener and more sustainable community while engaging in meaningful social interactions.
So, don't underestimate the social benefits that gardening can offer. It's not just about plants; it's about connecting with others, building relationships, and being part of something greater than yourself. Get involved in the gardening community and reap the social rewards for your mental well-being.
Gardening for those with mental health challenges
For those who are dealing with mental health challenges, gardening can be a powerful tool for healing and finding solace. The act of nurturing plants and watching them grow can provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment, boosting self-esteem and overall well-being. Gardening offers a peaceful and therapeutic environment where individuals can escape the stress and pressures of daily life, allowing them to focus on the present moment and find a sense of peace.
Gardening can also serve as a form of self-care, providing a healthy and constructive outlet for managing emotions and reducing anxiety. The physical activity involved in gardening can release endorphins, improving mood and promoting a sense of calm. Taking care of plants and witnessing their growth can also create a sense of hope and optimism, offering a tangible reminder that even in the face of challenges, growth and renewal are possible.
Additionally, gardening can provide a sense of connection to the natural world, offering a sense of grounding and perspective. Spending time outdoors and connecting with nature can be incredibly grounding and soothing for individuals with mental health challenges, offering a sense of peace and tranquillity.
In summary, gardening can be a powerful tool for those with mental health challenges, providing a safe and therapeutic space for healing and growth. By engaging with nature, nurturing plants, and finding solace in the act of gardening, individuals can find comfort, resilience, and renewed hope. So, whether you're struggling with anxiety, depression, or any other mental health challenge, consider giving gardening a try and experience the healing benefits for yourself.
 Thompson, R. (2018). Gardening for health: A regular dose of gardening. Clinical Medicine, 18(3), 201-205. https://doi.org/10.7861/clinmedicine.18-3-201 $