Perhaps you’re contemplating planting your own garden. Maybe not for mass production but just for a basket of tomatoes or some pretty flowers to grace your table. What’s for certain is that the pandemic, with all the leisure time we were given during lockdown, has motivated even the least likely among us to get their hands dirty. Along with the full-body workout that planting provides (as well as the expected harvest), there are remarkable mental health benefits associated with gardening. Let’s dig into the therapeutic fruit that some minor planting can deliver.
Most of us are a far cry from the organic, outdoorsy lifestyles our parents and grandparents once lived and thrived on. As technology advances, what was once fun and interactive has been swapped for a life with our blue screen devices, stuck within the four walls of our home.
Simple activities like planting, sowing, and reaping is what’s needed, not only to break our techno-addiction but to get a great workout without the gym membership! What may not seem like your typical cardio workout can easily burn 200-500 calories an hour, according to an article on www.gardenorganic.org.uk. The study goes on to inform that gardening is, after weight training, the second-best option for increasing bone density. Gardening is known for developing and sustaining one’s endurance, flexibility, and strength.
Naturally, we tend to associate plants with life, health, wellness, and growth. The green color is often associated with abundance, prosperity, and effervescence. It should come as no surprise, then, that gardening and being around plants in general increases self-esteem and enhances overall mental and emotional well-being. Economist and Professor in the Department of Horticulture Sciences at Texas A&M University, Charlie Hall, stated in an AgriLife Today article, “Interacting with nature, especially with the presence of water, can increase self-esteem and mood, reduce anger, and improve general psychological well-being with positive effects on emotions and behavior.”
Not only can you expect to reap the practical spoils of your home garden, you’ll also reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. For those fortunate enough to turn a portion of their front yard into a mini-farm bed, the tranquility and calm they experience can lead to gardening as a place of sanctuary. A UK survey on simple table-top gardening sessions done by Thrive reported that out of the 317 people who participated, 83 percent reported noticeable results in mental health, while 93 percent experienced a boost in confidence and self-esteem.
These reports can be directly linked to the feeling of hope generated when a seed is sown and with careful nurturing, something is grown. To behold such a process can be extremely motivating especially to someone seeking to restore a sense of purpose.
Besides the psychological benefits of gardening, the practice has the ability to boost memory. A study done by Garden Organic reveals the proven effects of horticulture therapy and gardening activities on dementia patients. The reports conclude that therapeutic gardening improves engagement, behavior, cognitive abilities, attention span, and communication skills in Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients. This could be a result of the stress reduction and mental clarity mentioned earlier. Therefore, mental restoration, sensory stimulation, and an increase in strength and balance are all positive influences of gardening on dementia patients.
There is Hope
Whether you decide to do garden work as a pastime, an alternative exercise routine, or a way to grow your own supply of veggies, it’s a win-win! Gardening continues to remain the foundational principle in our modern lives as the science behind planting can be applied to life itself. It serves as a great reminder in this age of instant gratification that just like a seed in the dirt, life is a process that requires patience. And with time, what seems unpromising can be made beautiful.