woman gardening

7 Benefits of Gardening and Yardwork on Your Mental Health

 

Summer used to be the time we looked forward to. A break from school, time to travel, or hang out with friends. Instead, we find ourselves continuing to live our lives online, indoors, and socially distanced. COVID-19 is easing, but the uncertainty and stress about the next variant still affect our mental well-being. One fix is right outside your door. Here are seven benefits that gardening and yardwork have on your mental health.

1. You Can Depend on It

It sounds simple, but gardening has an emotional return on investment that was undervalued before the pandemic. It was something you could depend on to make you feel good. Studies show uncertainty affects our mental health. A neatly cut lawn or a yard full of blooming flowers can put some normalcy and certainty back into your life.

Studies show uncertainty affects our mental health. A neatly cut lawn or a yard full of blooming flowers can put some normalcy and certainty back into your life. Click To Tweet

Gardening is the perfect way to balance frustration with today’s “new normal.” Schedule an hour a day for gardening and pruning. Having a routine is essential for our mental health, especially in times of uncertainty. Digging, pulling weeds, and pushing seeds into the earth is a holistic and healthy way to achieve balance in an unpredictable world.

2. Green is Good

woman working in garden planter

Just being outside in a green space is good for your mental health and can result in reduced stress. This effect is so well documented that psychiatric hospitals are beginning to incorporate mindful green spaces and gardens in their designs. 

Just being outside in a green space is good for your mental health and can result in reduced stress. Click To Tweet

There’s also a mental health benefit to digging in the dirt. Scientists have found that stirring up microbes lifts our spirits by stimulating the production of serotonin. Maybe that’s why urban planners are also looking at ways to make inner cities greener.

There’s also a mental health benefit to digging in the dirt. Scientists have found that stirring up microbes lifts our spirits by stimulating the production of serotonin. Click To Tweet

3. Better Nutrition

It’s no secret that healthy eating boosts your mental health. A diet rich in fiber also boosts your immune system. Plant an array of colorful vegetables such as sweet potatoes, eggplant, green beans, and swiss chard for a healthier menu. And if you grow your own food, it reduces the need to leave home.

4. Gardening as Exercise

Digging, pulling weeds, pushing seeds into the earth—gardening is a holistic and healthy way to achieve balance in an unpredictable world. And yes, researchers say gardening too counts as exercise. Just a few minutes of gardening can help lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Getting the proper amount of exercise also boosts your immune system. It’s not just running and biking that gets the endorphins going. Push lawn mowing burns between 250 and 350 calories an hour.

Just a few minutes of gardening can help lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Getting the proper amount of exercise also boosts your immune system. Click To Tweet

5. A Sense of Connection

The changes in the school and work schedules cost us more than some semester and office hours. Some people say they’ve lost a sense of connection as all the hallmarks of daily life suddenly changed. Caring for a living garden, or better yet a community garden, can reconnect you with a sense of purpose, and keep you surrounded by like-minded people.

Caring for a living garden, or better yet a community garden, can reconnect you with a sense of purpose, and keep you surrounded by like-minded people. Click To Tweet

6. Being Mindful

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines mindfulness as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” And that’s the trick out in the yard. Activities such as pruning roses or cutting back bushes, afford you the opportunity to practice being in the moment. It’s a practice that has proven mental health benefits.

7. Pride of Accomplishment

Before the pandemic, Americans spent on average between 7 and 17 minutes a day on yardwork. Now that many of us are sticking closer to home, you might be able to spend more time working on an Instagram-worthy flower garden. 

Whether you’re home alone or still going into the office, you can reap the benefits of gardening or yardwork. Don’t have a big plot of land? Create a balcony garden or kitchen herb garden to improve your mental health. It’s an activity that’s proven to come with big benefits to your stress level and mood — and time well spent.

 


 

Jayce Lambert is a graduate student in Texas who loves traveling, camping, hiking, and cycling. She’s managed to find some places off the beaten path these past few years to continue to enjoy nature. Her love of the outdoors is apparent in her dorm room, which she adorns with hanging plants and ferns.

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