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Gardening is the Perfect Natural Remedy for Anxiety and Much More

 

Although it is always more pleasant to garden in warmer weather, don't let the colder times put you off - it is not about how cold it is, but more about wearing the right clothing!

It's clear that gardening for mental health is more than a passing trend. Here in the UK, doctors are even prescribing gardening for that very reason, helping those with mental health problems escape from the pressures and stress of everyday life.

And of course, gardening has so many health benefits to offer.

Top of the list, soil is excellent for your mood 

This is because the smell of mycobacterium vaccae (a microorganism found in soil, in compost and in leaf mold) lights up neurotransmitters that release serotonin. 

Serotonin is a chemical messenger that helps brain and nervous system cells communicate. Its main function is to stabilize your mood, as well as your feelings of happiness and well-being. Serotonin can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety and increase feelings of joy or happiness.

 Mycobacterium vaccae the 'friendly' soil bacteria has been shown to alleviate symptoms of allergies, asthma and psoriasis - all of which can stem from a weakened immune system. 

 

And there is more... 

1. Stress relief

As we have said, one of the main benefits of gardening for mental health is its ability to relieve stress.  But it also provides a welcome break from our increasingly tech-dominated lives.  For example, one study found there were significant differences in mood when comparing participants’ response to two tasks: working on a computer and transplanting.  The latter produced lower stress levels and lower blood pressure.

2. Grounding and strengthen connections

Gardening will trigger a sense of grounding, helping us to reconnect with our roots as human beings.  It is said that those who get involved in gardening often experience a deeper sense of belonging and connection with nature.  You also learn the value of growing your own food.  But there is another form of grounding and that is when you go barefoot on the grass or the soil.  

3. Staying present

Staying in the present moment through mindfulness also comes with benefits. Gardening is a way of practising mindfulness as you need to concentrate on what you're doing as well as taking time to enjoy the beauty around you.  In addition, all tasks related to gardening (such as digging, pruning or weeding) force us to focus on the task in hand hopefully putting aside any worries or concerns if only for a time.

4. A sense of purpose 

Gardening helps you to achieve a sense of worth and purpose.  You get directly involved in something that is hands-on AND you can see the end result of your effort.  Studies have shown that gardening causes an increase in feel good hormones like dopamine. 

5. Reduce the risk of Alzheimer's

Yet another worthwhile benefit leading to better brain function and improved concentration and memory.   Researchers have concluded that daily gardening is the single biggest risk reduction for dementia, reducing incidence by over a third.  The reason could be a combination of learning, strength, endurance, dexterity and problem solving.

6. Helps you to keep in shape

This is because gardening can often involve lots of physical exercise and fat burning activities. That same exercise helps you to sleep better, another essential in achieving good health.

 

7. Strengthens your immune system

You are away from screen time and into natural light and of course sunlight and the all-important exposure to vitamin D to help build resistance to chronic disease and much more.

So, remember to...

Get down and dirty so that you end up with soil under your fingernails even if you just have a balcony or window box! 

 

SOURCES:

Zedler Ł, Burger P, Wang S, Formela K.Materials (Basel). 2020 Oct 20;13(20):4669. doi: 10.3390/ma13204669.PMID: 33092105 
Donald CE, Scott RP, Wilson G, Hoffman PD, Anderson KA.Air Qual Atmos Health. 2019 May;12(5):597-611. doi: 10.1007/s11869-019-00680-1. Epub 2019 Mar 7.PMID: 32201543 Free PMC article.
Almansour KS, Arisco NJ, Woo MK, Young AS, Adamkiewicz G, Hart JE.PLoS One. 2019 Apr 25;14(4):e0216156. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0216156. eCollection 2019.PMID: 31022281 Free PMC article.
Pronk MEJ, Woutersen M, Herremans JMM.J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2020 May;30(3):567-584. doi: 10.1038/s41370-018-0106-1. Epub 2018 Dec 19.PMID: 30568187 Free PMC article.