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4 Mental Health Benefits Of Gardening

By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES, MDVIP
Photograph courtesy of MDVIP

Most of us are stressed every day (in fact 55 percent in one Gallup poll reported feeling stressed for a good portion of the previous day). Unfortunately, that stress isn’t healthy. Uncontrolled stress is tied to heart disease, asthma, obesity, diabetes, headaches, depression … it’s a long list. That’s why it’s important to find an effective method of relaxation.

One of the most productive ways to unwind is gardening. Gardening provides emotional health benefits similar to cycling, walking or dining out, according to a study published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning. And it’s a hobby you can make your own, setting a budget, choosing what you want to harvest and deciding how much space to allocate to the garden. Keep in mind, “gardens” can be cultivated in your backyard, in a community garden or in porch pots/flowerpots.

More importantly, gardening is renowned for its mental health benefits. Here are four ways gardening can perk up your mood and ease your stress.

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Improves Emotional Wellbeing and Reduces Stress

A small study conducted by Princeton University researchers used a cellphone app to track the emotional wellbeing of 370 Minneapolis-St. Paul area residents as they performed 15 daily activities. Results showed that gardening raised happiness levels, which were similar across racial boundaries and urban/suburban areas. Gardeners experienced happiness regardless of tending a vegetable or an ornamental garden and whether they gardened alone or with others.
 

Helps You Stay Mindful and Manage Anxiety

Gardening requires concentration. This focus helps calm the mind, redirect thoughts away from worries and place you in a meditative state. You can enhance the meditation by listening to the sounds of nature or relaxing music while tending to your plants. Studies suggest meditation helps ease stress, manage anxiety and foster emotional health.
 

Has Physiological and Psychological Benefits

Getting into nature has numerous psychological and physiological benefits. Studies suggest nature therapy (also known as ecotherapy or by the Japanese term shinrin-yoku) can improve sleep patterns, helping to ease stress. Being in nature also lowers cortisol, contributing to reduced levels of stress, depression, anxiety, and aggression. Sunshine also helps your body produce vitamin D, which helps strengthen bones, boost immunity and possibly lower blood pressure and risk for cardiovascular disease.

Provides a Connection

Gardening provides a connection to the earth and to the plants you’re cultivating. Some experts attribute this connection with the ability to lift your spirits. If you crave alone time to find a deeper connection to yourself, gardening is an ideal activity. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a social connection, join your local collective gardening network.

If stress has become a problem in your life, consult your doctor. If you don’t have a physician, consider partnering with MDVIP. MDVIP-affiliated physicians have time to customize an approach to stress management for their patients that can help with controlling ailments related to aging as well as other health-based goals.

Find a physician near you and begin your partnership in health.


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