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The Mental Health Benefits of Gardening

Gardening

Planting and getting closer to nature not only creates a beautiful surrounding, soothes the soul but also offers plenty of mental health benefits of gardening.

Every year, around 20% of people in the US experience a mental health issue.

That’s almost 47 million individuals suffering from a debilitating illness, annually.

It doesn’t discriminate. Anyone of us could experience poor mental health at any point in time.

It’s frightening when you think about it.

After all, mental ill-health has significant negative effects. By definition, it interferes with and impacts day to day experience. To struggle with mental illness is often to feel deeply unhappy, alone, anxious, and isolated.

And modern treatment approaches are far from faultless. A combination of talking therapy and medication can make a real difference. However, that isn’t guaranteed. Many come away with nasty side-effects from the meds, and wasted expenditure from therapy that didn’t work.

It’s important to find alternative means of managing our mental health, outside of (and alongside) formal treatment. But what sort of things can you do?

Gardening is one example of a hobby that can have a real positive impact. Popular around the world, it offers significant benefits to anyone struggling mentally. Interested in learning more?

Keep reading to discover 12 amazing mental health benefits of gardening.

1. Distraction

Mental ill health can feel overwhelming.

No matter the particular issue, the internal experience can feel deeply and irretrievably distressing. Everything piles in at once. You feel like you can no longer cope and simply want it all to stop. You may even go into a full crisis.

Of the many ways to contend with distress, distraction can be a good first port of call.

Sometimes you simply need a break. No matter how you do it, getting away from the trigger via distraction can help. Sure, it isn’t a long-term solution. But it undoubtedly makes a difference in the present moment.

Gardening can be one such distraction. It’s a form of escape. You turn your attention to a task and focus on it. It takes your mind off the problem and enables heightened levels of emotion to recede.

2. Sense of Purpose

In the midst of mental ill-health, life can seem bleak.

In depression, for example, it’s common to feel a sense of hopelessness. You feel like the world is awful, you’re awful, and the future holds nothing better.

There’s nothing like a sense of meaning to restore that hope. And hope will forever be an antidote to despair.

Finding purpose is a stepping stone to finding meaning. And gardening can give you that.

You have a goal: to tend to the garden. No matter how big or small the task, it gives you purpose. Your garden becomes a project to work on over time. There’s always something that needs to be done. In doing it, you can find meaning to your day.

And that can be great salvation from distress.  

3. Sense of Achievement

Feeling good about yourself can be a rarity when you’re unwell.

The opposite is often the case.

Pride and self-worth may be in short supply. A sense of progress and achievement can turn that around though. Gardening can supply both.

After all, you work hard on a task and see the positive outcome at the end of it. You create something beautiful and have only yourself to ‘blame’! Positive reigns as a result. Meaning, purpose, and progress are fantastic balms for negative self-esteem.

4. Meditative

Gardening is great at keeping you in the present moment.

As we’ve already mentioned, your sole focus is usually on the task at hand.

There might be the odd thought ticking away in the background. But, for the most part, you’re intent on weeding, mowing the lawn, planting flowers, dead-heading the old ones and so on. There are colors, smells, and tactile sensations to attend to.

It all helps you stay present and mindful.

The act of staying present is hugely meditative. By being fully present, concerns about the past and future dissipate. It’s vital to get a break from the frenzy of thought that often predominates. Gardening, in as meditation, can do just that.

5. De-Stress

Mental health and stress are intrinsically bound.

If you’re currently struggling with your mental health, then you’ll know what we mean. Stress is at every turn. Tension and blood-pressure peaks. It can feel impossible to relax. And relaxation is crucial to a healthy lifestyle.

Thoughts constantly whizz around in your head. Worries circulate constantly. Doubt and uncertainty reign. Everyday jobs and responsibilities can become impossible to perform.

It’s downright stressful. And, of course, it’s a vicious cycle. The more stressed out you get, the worse the experience. The harder the experience, the more stress there is. And so on…

Gardening is a natural de-stressor.

As a distraction, it automatically offers a reprieve. As a meditation, it does the same. And finally, by providing a sense of purpose, you feel a greater sense of calm in your day.

6. Sense of Connection

Gardening provides a sense of connection with the world.

With your hands in the soil, you’re literally grounded in what you’re doing. Gardening brings you down, from the vitriolic world of negative thoughts to the ground.

Turning to your senses is a psychological means of reducing negative emotion. Feeling connected to the earth helps you remain in control.

7. Sense of Control

That world ‘control’ is key too.

Mental health issues can make things feel out of control. Your experience of the world can feel entirely out of your hands. It’s easy to feel helpless.

Gaining a sense of control in day to day activities can help. Gardening does just that. You have full say over what you’re doing. It’s your project and you get to cultivate it as you please.

It’s a reassuring pursuit that’s concrete, physical, tangible, and certain. It’s under control.

8. Exercise

Gardening gets you active!

Physical exercise is a great help when it comes to improving your mood.

You’re out of your mind and into your body. It’s known to do anyone a world of good. Even light exercise can make a big difference. Get out into your garden and give it a shot.

9. Vent Strong Emotions

All that physical exercise is good, full-stop.

We get out of bed and into physical work. With bodies moving, we often automatically feel better.

An added bonus is the ability to vent strong emotions. We can feel fit to burst as emotions build-up. Frustration, anger, upset, hurt, grief…these are all intensely challenging emotional states to handle.

Hard physical labor allows you to vent it. Rather than letting it develop, or taking it out on yourself (or others), you put the emotion into the process of gardening. Digging, weeding, mowing, lifting, sawing (like when you’re at 1st Choice Leisure Buildings), and so on are all strenuous activities.

Physical release sometimes leads to emotional release.

10. In Nature

Nature has goodness at its heart.

Being in green, open, nature-filled spaces is scientifically proven to improve our overall health. By the simple virtue of being in nature, we receive a release of positive neurochemicals. These raise our spirits, lessen negative thoughts, and create positive feelings overall.

The vast majority of gardening happens outdoors. As such, we reap the same rewards to our wellbeing.

11. Zero Judgment

The world is full of judgments.

It’s easy to feel the sting of negative beliefs and biases in our outside world. As if we’re somehow wrong, or not enough. You can end up becoming overwhelmed with a sense of self-loathing.

But there’s none of that in a garden. There is only nature: flowers, plants, leaves, trees, and soil. It is simply mother earth. She’s there with you, non-judgmentally, allowing you to go about your task in a state of peace and quiet.

12. Fights Depression and Anxiety

Gardening is a known home-remedy for depression and anxiety.

Both forms of mental illness are immensely prevalent. For instance, anxiety affects 40 million adults in the US every year.

The aforementioned gardening benefits help explain why. Mindfulness, nature, purpose, distraction…it’s all good stuff in the battle with anxiety, depression and low moods.

Feel Those Benefits of Gardening…

There you have it: 12 of the main mental health benefits of gardening.

Mental health is a modern scourge that’s affecting increasing numbers of us each year.

In terms of its impact on daily life, few other known human ailments affect us as badly. Regardless of the exact experience or diagnosis, mental health places a huge burden onto our shoulders.

It’s vital that we seek to find our own outlets of relief. Modern treatment approaches may well help. But they have undeniable flaws. Finding alternative forms of support is often important.

As we’ve seen, gardening is one example of an activity that can make a significant difference. By virtue of what’s involved, anyone who partakes in it, for any length of time, should start to feel the positive effects.

Hopefully, this piece has convinced you of its value! Why not give it a shot? Who knows, it may be exactly what’s required, and you’ll learn valuable new skills in the process.

Finally, if you’re worried about your mental health, be sure to speak with a medical professional. They’ll be able to offer advice and information about how to access support.

Found value in this piece? Looking for more mental health advice? Explore our blog.

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