Gardening is a productive hobby that can also be used as a stress reducer. Some studies have shown that views of natural settings and plant life can lower blood pressure and reduce muscle tension, producing recovery from stress in a matter of minutes.
In one study, subjects were asked to perform a stressful task and then asked to either perform 30 minutes of gardening in their allotment gardens or 30 minutes of reading.
While both groups experienced a decrease in stress, the gardeners experienced a significantly greater decline in stress (as measured by salivary cortisol, a stress hormone), as well as a full restoration of positive mood; the readers actually experienced a further decline in mood.
Here are just a few of the ways gardening can benefit your physical and mental health, and how you can start harvesting those benefits for you and your family
Even simply getting out in the sun is known to improve one’s mood. Sunlight provides an invigorating boost of Vitamin D. And the fresh air that accompanies it is also good for your health. Sun exposure also has the proven effects of reducing both blood pressure and cholesterol. Sunlight deprivation is also a known cause of seasonal affective disorder.
Gardening is an Attention Refresher
Humans have a limited capacity for the kind of focused attention required by cell phones and email and the rest of our modern technology. When that capacity gets used up we tend to become irritable, distracted, prone to error and stressed out.
Fortunately this “attention fatigue” appears to be reversible. Following a theory first suggested by University of Michigan researchers in the 1980s, Experts have argued that we can replenish ourselves by engaging in “involuntary attention,” an effortless form of attention that we use to enjoy nature.
the natural environment and the repetitive, soothing nature of many gardening tasks are all sources of effortless attention.
if you need an excuse to avoid joining the gym, gardening can provide some of the same benefits. Digging, planting, weeding, and other repetitive tasks that require strength or stretching are excellent forms of low-impact exercise, especially for people who find more vigorous exercise a challenge, such as those who are older, have disabilities or suffer from chronic pain.
Ready to start gardening? Try these ideas for a start:
Plant a vegetable garden at home. You don’t need much space to plant a garden. A small area in your yard where you can grow a few vegetables is a good start. Start with easy-to-grow vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes and bell peppers.
Or grow flowers instead. Try planting flowers in your yard or in hanging baskets. Good options to start with include clematis, petunias and geraniums.
Join a community garden. A community garden is a piece of land collectively gardened by a group of people. Each community garden works differently: some grow vegetables, some flowers. Some exist as one single plot where everyone pitches in while others allow people to rent individual plots.
It doesn’t take much to start seeing the benefits of gardening, both on your body and on your lawn. So get out there and start today.