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Get Your Hands Dirty: How Gardening Nourishes Your Mind, Body, and Soul

The blog explores how gardening has the potential to turn your life around, both mentally and physically

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09 Sep '23
5 min read


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In our busy world, balance is the key. Enter gardening, a source of solace with incredible benefits. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, a garden holds transformative potential for the gardener's health and wellness. When you immerse your hands in the soil, it can positively impact your health issues. From better sleep to boosted self-esteem, gardening touches every aspect of well-being.
 

Let’s explore how gardening enhances mood, nurtures the immune system, and sharpens cognition. We even threw in a quick guide at the end for the newbies out there. 

Promotes Sleep

Consider gardening a gentle, low-impact way to be more active and achieve an all-body workout. You can begin with leisurely pottering that gradually transitions to other heavy-duty activities like lifting, shovelling and raking, resulting in physical exertion and a sense of fatigue. 

Recent research from the University of Pennsylvania highlights that gardening can improve sleep patterns. The findings reveal that individuals who participate in gardening are more inclined to enjoy a consistent seven hours of restful sleep each night.

Nurturing your garden acts as a stress and anxiety reducer, leading to an enhanced ability to fall asleep effortlessly and even experience sweet dreams.

Calms You Down

Since we live in a world of constant stress and burnout, a time-out in your garden after a hectic day lowers anxiety and eases mental fatigue. Amidst a calming atmosphere with abundant fresh air and sunlight, you can unwind. Watching your nurtured plants thrive, from seedlings to full bloom, evokes a sense of pride and personal achievement. Moreover, tending to a plant fosters a sense of compassion and heightened awareness towards nature's intricate processes.

If space is limited, indoor plants like money or snake plants are ideal. They soothe your senses and enhance home decor with a touch of green.

Boosts Self-Esteem

Try spending just half an hour every week in your garden and see a change in your confidence. Don't believe us? A new study found that gardening for only 30 minutes a week can boost your self-esteem and help you feel less angry and depressed.

The research, carried out by experts from the University of Westminster and the University of Essex, involved an analysis of 270 individuals from diverse backgrounds and income brackets. They aimed to examine the impact of gardening on both mental and physical well-being. The results indicated that participants who engaged in gardening reported a swift improvement in self-esteem within a relatively brief time frame, unlike those who did not partake in gardening activities. 

Keeps your mind sharp

Let's say you're planning to plant a vegetable garden. Decide what vegetables to grow, how much space you need, and how to prepare the soil. You also need to remember to water your plants regularly and keep them free of pests. All this requires you to use your memory, problem-solving skills, and decision-making abilities.

We focus on the present moment and are more aware of our surroundings. 

That explains how it’s a mentally stimulating activity that demands problem-solving, planning, and attention to detail and helps to improve your concentration.

In addition, it also provides a therapeutic outlet for people with Alzheimer's disease. The repetitive motions and the close connection to nature can be calming and relaxing.

Mood Booster

Even if you have never tried gardening, studies have revealed that it can lift your mood. It is known to help people struggling with mental health. 

A recent study involving women without prior gardening experience has demonstrated that engaging in twice-weekly gardening classes effectively decreased their levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Time out in nature provides a sense of calm and helps us to connect with our surroundings. 

Researchers from the University of Florida put forward that our inherent affinity for plants could be due to their fundamental role in providing sustenance, shelter, and various essentials crucial for our survival.

Engaging in gardening, where your hands get delightfully dirty, has been shown to elevate serotonin levels. This is linked to contact with soil and a specific soil bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae, which stimulates the release of serotonin in the brain.

Also, when you get down to harvest, the sight and smell of the vegetable or fruit trigger dopamine in your brain. Gardening jazzes up your mood by tweaking your brain's chemistry and emotional well-being.

Great exercise and immunity booster

Irrespective of age, gardening has the same workout level as walking or biking – not too light or intense. It even hones your motor skills and muscles.

Your whole body gets a workout: legs, butt, arms, shoulders, neck, back, and abs. Stuff that puts these muscles to work helps you get stronger and shed some calories. 

However, the calorie burn isn't set in stone as it depends on your weight and the current tasks, be it watering, planting seedlings, digging or shovelling. 

Here’s the other dirt: thanks to the friendly bacteria in the soil could give your immune system a boost. A study in Immunotargets and Therapy from 2015 suggests that it might help you stay healthier by reducing your chances of getting sick and making it easier to fend off infections.
 

Where to start

Now if we have piqued your interest to start gardening, let’s help you kickstart your journey with our quick guide: 

Pick the right spot: You can pick a small space getting five to six hours of direct sunlight. 

Plan the space: Measure the space before you start, as it helps to determine the size of the plants. Grow them on trellises, walls, or even use hanging baskets in case of limited ground space. 

Select a Garden Type: Decide on a flower-filled retreat, a herb haven, a kitchen garden, or a veggie plot.

Start small: Consider growing herbs like basil and coriander. For veggies, tomatoes and green chillies are great choices. 

Work on the soil: Examine the texture of your soil and ensure it crumbles easily. You can improve it with organic compost.

Gather Tools: Essentials include pruning scissors, a spade, a trowel, a garden fork, a hose, a watering can, a forked trowel, and a gardening knife.

So let’s start digging in the pursuit of nourishing our souls. 

 

Category : Mental Health


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Written by Madhuwanti Saha

Writer, daydreamer, procrastinator