4 Ways Gardening is Good for Your Mental Health
“We might think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it’s our garden who is nurturing us.”
When I was a young child growing up, my family had both a large flower and vegetable garden. I had many opportunities to exercise this endeavor, as I’m sure my love for gardening came from my mother. Not only did I watch her, but she taught me how each plant has unique properties. Some like a lot of sun, some none at all; some a large amount of water, some only small amounts.
I learned quickly how to have a green thumb, and found comfort and relaxation in the process of gardening. There was such satisfaction in tending to and fostering growth in those little seeds. I began to feel gardening’s impact on my overall wellbeing. It was something that brought joy to my world. And it’s not just me. Research shows that gardening has a positive impact on both our physical and mental health. Here are just four ways cultivating a green thumb is good for the rest of you:
Gardening is Relaxing
Being in nature produces positive hormones, releasing serotonin, a chemical instrumental in regulating our moods. It helps us to be present in our moment, mindful of what is around us, increasing our chance of feeling relaxed. This in turn, spreads that feeling into other areas of our lives. Gardening also produces positive endorphins when our care results in something beautiful to look at. There is a sense of pride in taking a plant that “doesn’t look so hot,” and turning it into something we can admire.
Managing a Garden Gives Us a Sense of Responsibility
Gardening allows us to provide nurturing to something outside of ourselves. Getting into the soil helps keep us connected to life and our ability to influence it.
Caring for Plants Requires Awareness
When we care for plants, it helps us have respect for the world around us. Sometimes pesky bugs or rodents come in and chomp on the progress we’ve made at caring for our plants. It helps us learn how to let go of things we can’t control.
Seeing Plants Thrive Boosts Self-esteem
Plants and flowers don’t have a preference of whom is attending to them, and gardening doesn’t adhere to a specific demographic. So whether you are young or old, male or female, an expert or a novice, it gives us all the chance to provide nurturing. Plants love whomever is providing care.
Go ahead and pick up that shovel! Plant a garden and tend to seeds, then watch the masterpiece form around you. Watch how it fosters positive growth inside of you, and how the garden feeds your soul.
These blogs were written by members of the CHI Health Behavioral Care team.