Gardening is good for your health and well-being, here’s how
Increased Exercise and Vitamin D
Gardening is a physical activity. As well as being good exercise which burns more calories than you’d think, physical movement also releases endorphins, the “feel good” hormones. This can help to improve mood and lower stress levels.
While food can be a source of vitamin D, the body absorbs vitamin D mainly through exposure to sunshine. Vitamin D has shown to decrease symptoms of depression, and also offers other health benefits such as supporting the immune system, healthy bones, and calcium levels.
Healthy Eating and a Sense of Purpose
Gardening offers a sense of empowerment and purpose. The ability to grow and improve something tangible can have strong emotional effects. When you see the results of your efforts, you also benefit from a sense of achievement and all the positive emotions associated with this.
A healthy, nutritious diet can boost and protect mental health, as well as make you fitter and healthier overall. Growing your own fruit and vegetables is an easy way to give yourself a supply of natural, vitamin-packed foods, and gardening organically can improve this further too.
Decreased Symptoms of Depression
Gardening can promote mindfulness, which is helpful in reducing symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety. Mindfulness is living in the moment, being focused on what you are doing, and engaging your senses so that your mind has a break from negative thoughts.
The physical activity involved in gardening can also be a stress-buster; gardening can help lower blood pressure and decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Mood Boosting Sunlight
Research has shown that on sunnier days, the brain produces higher levels of the mood-enhancing chemical serotonin. Spending time gardening in sunlight is a simple, natural way to promote a more positive mood.
Healthy sleep patterns are important for mental wellness and can help us to regulate our emotions. Spending time in the sun has a powerful effect on the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Also, the physical activity of gardening means we’re more physically tired.
Gardening is a hopeful act that can make you feel positive. When gardening, you are tending to living things and showing confidence in future growth. Both of these actions can produce fulfilling, optimistic feelings.
The act of gardening and seeing the results of your efforts – whether that’s a vegetable harvest, a beautiful floral display, or simply a neat lawn – can offer a sense of improved confidence in your own ability. This in turn can raise self-esteem.
Gardening can help you focus on the task at hand. It requires concentration, and offers a break from distractions. Getting stuck in with some garden jobs is a simple way to work on improving your attention span, while also enjoying some time outdoors.
Gardening in a community garden, at home with family, or near neighbours and friends is a great way to combat feelings of isolation and strengthen social connections.
For more mental well-being advice visit Mind, the mental health charity