Spending Time in Your Garden Can Boost Your Mental Health

While we may be well aware that gardening is of great benefit to our physical health, spending time in your garden can greatly improve your mental health and general wellbeing as well. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the USA (equating to 43.8 million), experiences mental illness annually. The Alliance further states that 4% of American adults experience mental illness to such an extent that it interferes with or limits one or more major life activity.

Mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, and OCD can affect anyone at any given time. While the pharmaceutical market is inundated with a myriad of antidepressants and mood-stabilizing drugs it is important to remember that something as simple as spending time outdoors in the garden can have a significant effect on your mental and emotional health. While gardening holds the added benefit of providing a physical workout, relaxing on the lawn or next to the pool will be beneficial as well. Good health and wellbeing is more than just about a healthy waist size, and apart from being exposed to healthy doses of Vitamin D thanks to the sun, you can also expect to experience an array of other benefits.

Reduced Stress Levels

David Strayer, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah has studied the calming effect of nature on human stress levels extensively.  He was reported as saying that the human brain isn’t tireless and is easily fatigued. When we slow down and take in the beauty of our natural surroundings, we not only feel invigorated but our mental performance improves too. Spending time outdoors also reduces the levels of cortisol, the hormone used as a marker for stress, in the body.

Spending Time in Your Garden Can Boost Your Mental Health: A barefoot woman bringing in fresh cut flowers from her garden.

Spending Time in Your Garden Can Boost Your Mental Health: A barefoot woman bringing in fresh cut flowers from her garden.

Increases Memory and Attention Span

Research has shown that spending time outdoors can boost our concentration ability tremendously.  Spending time in nature has a calming effect on the brain which, in turn, leads to an increased ability to concentrate. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that walking outside also increases productivity and creativity levels.

General Improvement in Mental Health

Stanford University researchers found that people who spend 90 minutes in nature as opposed to urban concrete surrounds, showed decreased activity in the section of the brain that is associated with depression.  Another Stanford study, conducted in 2015, found that individuals who spend time in nature experienced reduced anxiety and rumination as well as increased joy and happiness. Outdoor walks, even if around a city garden, have been proven to be a useful clinical supplement to existing mental-health treatments.

In addition to lifting our moods and helping us feel positive, spending time outside can lead to tangible increases in self-esteem as well.  Spending as little as 5 minutes in your garden can reduce stress, elevate your mood and make you feel more alive than you have felt in a long time. Aim to increase the amount of time spent outside gradually and you will soon enjoy all the benefits Mother Nature has to offer.

Photo by Florian GIORGIO on Unsplash