“Life begins in the garden. The rest – worry, conflict, stress – simply dissolves in the landscape” (1)
Not a green thumb? Never gardened in your life? Don’t have a backyard? None of that matters – you don’t have to be an expert on gardening to reap the benefits of simply FEELING GOOD in both body and mind.
Whether you are a student, an investment banker, a retiree or a parent, the benefits of getting your hands dirty are tenfold. Put simply, research has proven that gardening is both a highly effective mood enhancer and personal trainer all rolled into one.
Reading Indoors or Gardening Outside?
Well both sound relaxing. In fact lying down on a comfy couch reading a good book sounds super stress-free. However, a study in the Netherlands using stressed out participants split into two for reading and gardening indicated that although both demonstrated a drop in cortisol (gardening participants showing a much steeper drop) during their respective activities, the gardening group fared much better in terms of mood, reporting a complete turn around by the end of the experiment.
The Secret to Life Satisfaction
A Texas survey indicated that “gardeners reported more physical activity, claimed more energy, and rated their overall health higher than non-gardeners. Those who described themselves as gardeners showed a higher level of life satisfaction than those who said they didn’t garden”. (1) I’d make a safe bet the Dalai Lama would agree.
Dirt – The Natural Anti-Depressant
Did you know that when digging around in the earth you are ‘kicking up some potent Mycobacterium vaccae bacteria, known to stimulate serotonin releasing neurons in the brain?’ (1) Regardless of the sensory delight of getting your hands dirty, and whether or not your horticultural endeavours are worth writing home about, we could all do with getting our hands dirty more often for a natural pick-me-up – nature’s prescription medication!
It gets you away from the ipad and outside.
Concerned about the rising addiction of screen time and its affect on adult and children’s health? Here we have the answer. Dig in the dirt, plant a seedling, prune some stems. Even 10 minutes is enough to turn your day around. It’s a bit like taking the dog for a walk to breath some fresh air and get a spot of sunshine on your shoulders. Except not everyone owns a dog. You don’t need a huge backyard to reap the health benefits of gardening either. Gardeners and gardener wannabees can all happilly potter in a small inner city courtyard, big suburban backyard, apartment balcony, roof top, or even a community garden.
It gives you precious ‘me’ time.
Whether it’s a quick ten minutes each day or a longer stretch once a week, gardening enables you to escape into your own private world. Pottering in the garden, watering and weeding pot plants on your balcony, or planting vegetables in a community garden, enable you to take ‘time out’ from the people around you and the hectic pace of life. This gentle, nuturing activity means you can simply focus on you, and nature. Your breathing rate will relax, tension will dissolve from your shoulders, and your emotional batteries are given the opportunity to re-charge.
It gets you moving.
Whether it’s the action of squatting and rising, lifting bags of potting mix, carrying rocks, pushing a wheelbarrow, or digging with a spade – gardening provides an opportunity to work out (either in a relaxed way or a ‘Biggest Loser’ kind of way). And unlike a regular fitness workout, you are also provided with the bonus of a beautiful garden view from your window, flowers for the house, herbs and vegetables for your cooking.
So there you have it. Dirt cleanses the soul. And if you feel the need to instagram and Facebook photos of the rose you have grown, or the dinner you have cooked using vegetables from your garden, then your ‘screen time’ is well deserved.