Gardening for Physical and Mental Health
In the busy modern world, returning to nature can be an excellent remedy for our mental and physical wellbeing.
The enjoyment found from tending to plants and watching them grow can provide a great sense of fulfillment and happiness. For anyone considering taking up gardening, or simply just looking to spend more time outside, let’s address some of the benefits of gardening.
Perhaps it’s not the first social activity you may think of. Nonetheless, like any hobby, gardening provides an opportunity for people to build relationships. Chatting to someone with a shared interest, makes interacting and socialising much easier for people who are perhaps naturally shyer, or struggle with some form of social anxiety.
Indulging in a group activity brings people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities, together, which may otherwise not have met or found friendship before. The appeal of gardening as a community, is that it’s primarily built on a foundation of nurturing and caring for the environment, making it a welcoming safe space for like-minded individuals.
Whether you join a community garden, are part of a gardening club, or gather with friends in your own home, all situations provide a shared space where individuals can come together, exchange knowledge, and feel welcome.
Often when we think of exercise, we think of strenuous routines that require attending a gym. Depending on the activity, gardening provides a low impact full-body workout that improves strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health. No matter your physical capabilities, or level of fitness, gardening can engage the same muscles in your arms, legs, and core, that you would activate in a bodyweight routine at the gym. Planting seeds, pulling weeds, tending to plants, and digging up soil, can all contribute to improving your overall health and fitness.
The physical activity of gardening also helps to release the same endorphins as sunshine, aka natural mood-enhancers that contribute to making you happy. An afternoon spent gardening outdoors can provide a great sense of accomplishment, demonstrating new skills, which can be a great boost for your self-esteem.
It’s no secret that everyone feels happier when the sun is shining, and it’s scientifically proven to show real improvements to your mood. Obtained through your skin’s exposure to the sun’s rays, studies have shown that Vitamin D can help reduce the symptoms of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. This connection has been linked to increased levels of serotonin that sunlight brings (a neurotransmitter produced in the brain, responsible for regulating moods). Choosing to spend just a few minutes of the day in sunlight, can really help fight off the sadness associated with seasonal depression.
Sometimes we forget to give our bodies the attention they deserve, and one thing we tend to forget about is our bone strength. Vitamin D steps in as a superhero here, helping your bones to absorb calcium. It can also help to prevent osteoporosis and musculoskeletal disorders, especially as we age. Getting out in the garden has the added benefit of placing us in the sun’s path.
Gardening gives you the wonderful opportunity to awaken all five of your senses. Each sense has the potential to enhance your brain’s pathways, making your focus and engagement even better.
- Sight: Colours are not only visually appealing, but their vibrancy can encourage creativity and self-expression
- Smell: The scent of certain flowers or herbs can have calming properties, such as jasmine and sandalwood
- Touch: Unusual textures such as damp soil, and soft petals can remind us of items with a similar feeling, and the sense of nostalgia can provide a great sense of comfort
- Hearing: Sounds of nature can evoke peace and tranquillity, and work wonders for those who usually struggle to relax their mind
- Taste: Eating fresh produce often encourages people to be more mindful about consuming a balanced diet
Let’s talk about why gardening is such a welcoming hobby – even more so for people who find regular activities that bit more difficult.
We take gardening for granted. Yet, it can be such a fun and enjoyable activity for people with learning disabilities whilst boosting their hand-eye coordination.
Gardening can help build problem solving abilities, cognition, and mental agility by addressing one thing at a time. For example, the simple act of learning what works and what doesn’t when you try to grow a seed.
The ability to change activity based on the different needs and skills makes it universally accessible. Lastly, growing that seed can give people a feeling of achievement and purpose.
If you were thinking about giving gardening a go or joining gardening events near you, you now have even more reason.
Taking care of plants and being in nature can really work wonders for your wellbeing. It’s incredible how much it can lift spirits, lessen stress, and even leave you feeling fulfilled and purposeful.
This article was kindly written by freelance writer Holly Dodd
For more information contact Holly at email@example.com or Sara from Mudlarks firstname.lastname@example.org.