Interacting with nature is necessary for maintaining a sense of well-being. Through gardening and spending time around plants, individuals can reap a wide range of psychological benefits.
When it comes to strengthening our mental health and finding happiness, common plan includes taking up a creative hobby, meditating, physical activity, and building solid relationships with others. But did you know that getting dirty hands on with gardening could also play an important role in achieving and maintaining happiness and mental well-being? According to a survey, 80 per cent of British people believe gardening had a positive impact on their mental health and the benefits were even better than hitting the gym.
When looking into these studies, what stands out is that we don’t need to spend endless hours in the garden, or even have a garden at all to enjoy the benefits of gardening on our mental health. Fast forwarding to the present and the concept of therapeutic horticulture is practiced all over the world. From Italy to Singapore there are certified horticultural therapy gardens that bring the benefits of gardening for mental health to people of all ages and walks of life.
Despite the fact that you may only need to place a plant on the windowsill at home to help create a more soothing environment, you can increase happy feelings even more through gardening. Gardening reminds us of our connection to nature, and helps us focus on the bigger picture, which can dull symptoms of depression.
- Relieves Stress and Anxiety – Looking at plants and flowers, whether indoors or outdoors, is a peaceful activity free of worries or conflict. It encourages living in the present moment and engages the senses.
- Prolongs Attention Span – “American Journal of Public Health” examines the impact of green or natural settings on children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Researchers found activities carried out in green settings significantly reduce symptoms of ADHD compared to other settings. Many children can benefit from spending time in nature.
- Practicing Acceptance – Most of our suffering comes from trying to control things that we can’t on regular basis. The more we can accept the limits of our control and the unpredictability of life, the more peace of mind we can find.
- Moving beyond Perfectionism – prone to perfectionism trying to make things perfect can lead to frustration, missed deadlines and opportunities, and strained relationships. It can also lead to not even trying to do something, with a mentality of “why bother if it can’t be perfect?”
- Developing a Growth Mindset – With a growth mindset, we assume that we’re constantly learning. When something doesn’t work out the way we had hoped, we view it as a learning opportunity rather than as a “failure.”
- Being present – Mindful presence is tied to a list of positive outcomes, like relationship satisfaction and less emotional reactivity.
But did you ever stop to wonder why that is?
It has always seemed practicality that being engaged in the natural world is good for us. Scientifically, there is evidence that suggests that there are two main modes of attention:
Focused attention – Is what we use when we are at work.
Fascination – Which is what we use when we take part in hobbies such as gardening.
Too much focused attention can lead to stress and fascination then it plays a part in restoring our attention, lightening that anxious feeling we get when we are put under too much pressure or feel like we can’t cope. For others, it can simply be a reason to get out of the house, when you otherwise feel like getting out of bed is impossibility.
These are only some of the many benefits of gardening for mental health. In this post, we’ve seen that gardening is a natural anti-depressant that can have a powerful reset effect in our minds and bodies. This is a very accessible activity that requires little investment.