Gardening is one of the most nurturing commitments you can make, bringing with it a variety of benefits both for your physical and mental health. Committing to healthy eating, exercise, and reducing the amount you engage with technology can all be tricky to maintain. However, when they’re combined with making time for a leisurely activity such as gardening, it can feel far easier to follow through with your various other commitments.
In today’s post, written by gardening and sustainability advocate Tristan Kavanagh, here are the top 10 benefits of gardening - and why it’s a good move to start a veggie patch.
Gardening provides a welcome break from our technologically dominated lives.
A recent study found significant differences in overall mood and wellbeing when comparing participants responses to the use of technology and transplanting. Revelations from the research also included lower blood pressure, which suggests that spending time gardening and enjoying nature can help us to physically de-stress.
When we spend our leisure time on social media, video games or TV, I often wonder how much of our cognitive abilities we are really using.
In the garden, there’s a multitude of different skills we can use, including problem-solving and creative thinking. Examples include working out how to deter certain garden pests and improving soil quality to maintain the gardens overall health.
Additionally, there are various different ways you can consider reusing plastic products when gardening. There will always be new skills to learn and challenges to overcome, and making the choice to be more conscious with your gardening means you are doing your part to contribute to a more sustainable world.
Technology is something so habitual in today’s society that it’s easy to forget how many hours we spend on our devices. Gardening helps to break up these habits.
When you’re tending to your garden more regularly or creating new projects, it can end up feeling more natural to spend time on healthy habits like this, rather than scrolling through your phone.
There have been numerous studies on the benefits of gardening and its positive impact on your wellbeing, and how spending time in nature can increase feelings of happiness, centredness and contentment.
One study, in particular, found spending two hours a week in nature significantly improved mental wellbeing, whilst another explored the link between better mood and sunlight. This highlights more evidence to show why spending at least a few hours a week in the garden can improve your overall mood, health and wellbeing.
There’s been a variety of evidence to show that gardening as you age improves your memory, and can even prevent the effects of dementia.
In Korea, researchers ran a study on dementia patients and found that gardening for as little as 20 minutes at one time can promote growth in the brains nerves associated with memory.
Another study found horticultural therapy with the use of gardening to be another effective treatment for dementia. With this in mind, many Scandinavian countries now have green care programmes for the elderly, where they spend a large portion of their time working on farms and gardens.
For many people, the idea of the gym or going for a run isn’t something that particularly evokes a whole lot of excitement.
We all know how important exercise is, however for some it can feel challenging to commit to it so often. Thankfully there are many forms of exercise you can enjoy that won’t necessarily feel like you’re “working out”, and these can include being in nature or being at home.
Gardening is one of these examples. When you start gardening, you may not consider the added benefits of exercising daily and eating healthily. The goal is to nurture your surroundings and perhaps even grow some fruit and vegetables.
As your garden grows and your interest does too, you’ll find yourself committing to more projects in your garden. As a result, you may not even realise just how much exercise you're getting at the same time, as well as feeling inspired to eat well as you watch your fruit and vegetables grow!
There is a long list of positive benefits for practising Mindfulness.
Gardening can be so simplistic that it makes for an ideal setting to practise Mindfulness, and being present in what you are doing.
No notifications or emails.
Not worrying about getting that next task finished.
Just simply being in the moment and focusing on what’s in front of you.
Feeling the air, the sounds around you, and doing simple work that you’ll reap many rewards from.
It’s also a great way to unwind after a day of work.
Eating healthy foods is vitally important, although it can be tricky to commit to a healthy diet every day (and of course there’s a place for treating yourself once in a while).
When you’re growing your own fruit and vegetables, you’ll find your relationship to food starts to change, and the whole experience can even feel different when comparing it to purchasing food at the grocery store.
There is a particular satisfaction you’ll experience when it comes to eating vegetables that you’ve created; you’re inspired to eat the food you’ve taken the time to grow and will appreciate it on another level.
When you’re consistent with your harvests, gardening can contribute to helping you form healthy eating habits.
Sometimes in our lives, we can find it difficult to maintain a sense of order.
Some circumstances we can control, and others we can’t. While we may feel powerless in some parts of our lives, in the garden it’s just you and your crops. For example, you can choose how to arrange a certain vegetable; it’s your choice how much you want something, or how big it will grow.
It can be exciting to think about, and research, new garden projects and props, and plan what you’ll do next. This helps you to feel a sense of control, while also enjoying a leisurely activity.
Whether you’ve had a challenging day at work, or just in general - whatever the problem or frustration is, it can very easily follow you home.
When you’ve got a garden waiting for you, there is always something to do and look forward to. The excitement of reaping the rewards of a harvest, watering your plants, or simply checking how everything is growing; these are all positive things to look forward to and are great ways to let go of your frustrations.
If you have never gardened before, or you live in an apartment, you can start small - a simple balcony garden or a few pot plants is how many garden enthusiasts first get started.
If you have a lot on your plate right now, just 30 minutes a day or every other day is all that’s required to start a gardening project. As time goes on, you’ll begin to notice some subtle positive changes in your environment, as well as your overall wellbeing.
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