Whether you’re an avid gardener, or a more casual caretaker of plants, it’s likely you’ll agree that some aspect of gardening makes you feel good. It’s no secret that there’s a sense of pride, and pleasure, to gardening. Putting effort into shaping something, watching it grow and blossom, can be both rewarding and relaxing. A simple search will yield a staggering amount of data to reflect gardening’s impact on mood and mental health.
A 2009 Norwegian study researched the effect that 30 minutes of gardening can have on mood. After dealing with stressful tests, a group of thirty gardeners were randomly assigned a follow-up task of either reading indoors, or outdoor gardening. Both groups showed a drop in cortisol (stress hormone) but gardening resulted in a longer lasting positive mood, whereas the positive mood from reading eventually deteriorated. Although this was a small sample size, it’s a good indication that there are definite benefits to gardening.
Our daily lives can be riddled with stressors. Being out and about in a garden, focusing on tasks like watering, or planting, can take the mind off of the things that may be plaguing us. Gardening has quite a few repetitive motions, which is likely one of the more positive sides to it. You dig, you water, you clip, and your mind wanders because the tasks don’t require too much focus and attention. This is called “effortless attention” and is a big factor in why gardening is so calming. Our brains get to turn off, and we fall into a routine that we don’t need to think about, giving our minds a reprieve.
On top of letting our minds relax and wander, fresh air and exercise are both added bonuses that are proven to help improve mood. So get outside, get those hands dirty, and feel better for it.