Gardening is an activity that can produce numerous health benefits, and for many people, stress relief is a big one. The process of gardening provides great physical activity and brain stimulation as well, but if you are looking for a way to reduce your stress levels, working on a home garden or urban garden may be the way to go. Just why is it that gardening has such a positive impact on one’s mental health in this way?
Gardening shines as a way to reduce stress and cortisol levels. According to Health, a study done in the Netherlands produced some interesting results that connected gardening to stress relief. In fact, the study demonstrated that gardening appeared to be more effective than reading in reducing stress and keeping it away. There are several ways that gardening impacts stress levels, but one key piece of the puzzle is that gardening can help to reduce cortisol levels.
Cortisol is a hormone that is connected to your stress response. Psychology Today explains that cortisol is released as part of a fight-or-flight mechanism in response to stress or fear. Research shows that elevated cortisol levels can cause issues in a number of ways, such as with memory and learning, weight gain, and immunity. In addition, elevated cortisol levels can play a part in mental health issues, depression, and even a lower life expectancy.
Some medical professionals recommend gardening to alleviate stress and depression. Studies have shown that gardening has such a significant impact on stress relief that it is being used frequently in the form of horticultural therapy to help people who are struggling with anxiety, depression, and PTSD, details NPR. Not only does gardening help to reduce cortisol levels, it also simply allows people an opportunity to get away from their hectic, often technology-driven lives and embrace a different kind of sensory experience.
In addition to reducing stress levels, gardening may help to reduce depression and mood issues as well. These mental health benefits may come simply from the activity of gardening itself, but some researchers also believe that a bacteria typically found in soil may also impact serotonin levels, which can boost one’s mood.
Gardening alleviates stress on several fronts. As Mother Earth News notes, gardening also provides the chance to increase your vitamin D levels, and that can aid in reducing fatigue and depression, too. Vitamin D levels are believed to impact people in many ways connected to both physical and mental health, and boosting those levels can lead to significant gains in one’s overall well-being.
The act of gardening in and of itself can feel therapeutic, and it provides an easy way for people to disconnect from their chaotic days and relax. For some people, gardening also impacts one’s spirituality, and that connection lends itself to reduced stress and improved mental health as well. Gardening can also promote mindfulness by helping people focus on what is right in front of them as they garden, pulling them away from work, family, or life stress.
Whether the benefits of gardening are sparked from the soil, the vitamin D exposure, the decreased cortisol levels, or simply the experience of digging in the soil and connecting with nature, there is no doubt that the health benefits that come from this activity are substantial. If you are looking for a way to improve your mental health, combat depression, and reduce your stress level, embracing the activity of gardening may be one of the most effective approaches you can take.
Guest author: Maria Cannon
Ms. Cannon believes we’re never too young to dedicate ourselves to a hobby. She created HobbyJr to encourage young people to find a hobby they love.