Gardening for better mental health

Are you a plantita or plantito? Would you like to know how it would benefit your life?

Gardening has been around for as long as humans have been growing food. Through centuries, gardens have served not only as places to grow plants but as spaces for people to relax, to focus, and to connect with nature and each other. An activity that provides various mental health benefits for everyday living, even during the dire times under the pandemic.

This new research proves that grabbing a trowel and getting our hands at work to plant may actually blossom into better mental health.

Researchers from the University of Florida have found that working with plants could have a mental health benefit, compared to those who have never tried gardening before.

“The results of our small study show that engaging in gardening activities appears to lower indications of mood disturbance, depression, perceived stress and anxiety over the course of the treatment and based on scores of well-established self-report questionnaires,” Charles Guy, PhD, principal investigator of the study and a professor in an environmental horticulture department told Theravive.

Benefits of gardening

Improves mood. Gardening can make one feel more peaceful and content. Focusing our attention on the immediate tasks and details of gardening can reduce negative thoughts and feelings and can make us feel better in the moment. Just spending time around plants eases stress for many people.

Boosts self-esteem. Self-esteem is how much a person values and feels positively about themselves. Helping a plant grow is a big feat. When we see our work pay off with healthy plants, our sense of pride actually gets a boost.

Improves attention span. Gardening can change how well we pay full attention to a single activity. If we struggle with staying focused on tasks, conversations, or topics in your daily life, gardening can help in focusing on what’s right in front of us without getting distracted. Studies show that outdoor activities can reduce similar symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Provides exercise. Things like weeding, digging, and raking are a good exercise. Regular exercise reduces anxiety, depression, and other mental issues, and can help prevent dementia. If you do not like going to the gym, gardening can be an enjoyable way to still get these benefits.

Encourages social bonds. Gardening with others at a community garden or other group setting takes teamwork to achieve shared goals. Being part of a larger group can benefit our mental health by increasing social connections and support systems.

Limits of gardening

Know that mistakes can happen. Not every plant will grow exactly how you want or expect because of environmental issues.

There is a risk of illness and injury. Gardening may carry health risks from things like bacteria and insects, resulting in skin or body problems.

Remember, do not ignore other mental health treatments. Gardening is not the only way to improve our mental health. Therapy, medication, and other treatments can also manage mental illness.

So, if you notice signs of depression, anxiety, or other issues that interfere with your life even while you garden, talk to your doctor or a specialist for further expert advice.

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