6 gardening tips for health and happiness

6 Ways Gardening Can Help You Become Happier And Healthier

To garden, or not to garden, that is the question!

We’re here to help show you that there are countless physical, mental and social health benefits to gain from gardening.

We understand that the idea of gardening for health reasons may sound a bit strange to you. That’s perfectly normal! However, it may help to know that not only are GPs introducing community gardens to their patients. Plus, many doctors are prescribing gardening as a treatment in a similar way medication is!

You don’t have to be dealing with a crisis to feel the benefits. Gardening is one of the healthiest hobbies you can take up at any time. There are many easy and simple ways to get started, which we talk about below.

The main advantages of gardening include:

  1. Helping your body fight disease
  2. Becoming healthier in general
  3. Protecting your memory
  4. Improving your mental health
  5. Building friendships and connections
  6. Finding a sense of purpose

So, why not continue reading to discover in more detail the many advantages of gardening for both you and your community?

1 – Start gardening to help you fight disease

Your body is exactly like a plant. Just as plants use the sun to help make their food, your skin absorbs sunlight and uses it to make Vitamin D. By being outside in the garden, even if only for 30 minutes, you are giving your body the chance to be happier and healthier.

Why is Vitamin D so important? It has so many different uses that it is hard to just list a few! One reason is that it helps you fight off disease. By supporting your immune system and making sure it stays working as best as possible, Vitamin D makes it less likely that you will get sick.

Just like a refreshing glass of milk, another reason Vitamin D is beneficial is that it helps keep your bones super strong.

The advantages don’t stop there! Research has also shown that gardening may reduce the risk of developing certain cancers, especially breast cancer and prostate cancer.

2 – Start gardening for health improvement

To put it simply: Gardening is exercise!

Digging, planting, shovelling — to name just a few of the thousands of movements involved in gardening — all add up to be an intense workout. Every single major muscle group gets involved from head to toe. No wonder a day outside caring for your plants can lead to you crashing out on the sofa afterwards!

Not only does gardening help you sleep better, but it also builds up your strength from all the pushing, the pulling, and everything in between. Did you know that 30 minutes of gardening burns as many calories as playing badminton or volleyball? Staying at a healthy weight has never been easier! 

The best part? It doesn’t even have to feel like exercise! By mixing fun and fitness, you’ll find yourself healthier without dreading going to the gym.

The gym isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Even if you enjoy going, it can sometimes be hard to find the time when your day suddenly gets busy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get some daily exercise from the comfort of your home or at the nearby community garden. 

3 – Start gardening to protect your memory

Imagine forgetting all the important moments of your life. All those hugs, kisses, and smiles shared with friends and family — just gone. 

That is sadly the reality for many people living with dementia.

Although dementia can’t always be prevented, gardening has been shown to help protect your memories as you grow older. Horticultural therapy, which is a fancy way of saying you can use gardening to help improve mental health, effectively reduces the likelihood of dementia appearing.

Even if dementia strikes, unique ‘Greencare’ programs, such as in Norway and the Netherlands, support those affected by dementia to work on farms and with gardens. 

4 – Start gardening to protect your mental health

Did you know that gardening is a super-effective stress reliever? It has been shown that people who garden a few times a week are less stressed. Also, gardening is excellent at boosting your mood. From improved self-esteem, feeling less anxious and depressed, and having increased energy — gardening can help your mental health in so many ways.

(Plus, these improvements can last for months on end!)

However, when you’re feeling low, finding the energy to start gardening can be difficult. But even just going outside and sitting in the sunshine can provide an immediate boost. That little boost may give you that extra bit of motivation you need to get out your gardening tools. From there, you already have your tools out, so you might feel that desire to start gardening takes over!

That’s okay if not! Simply being outdoors can help you in so many ways. You can even use that time to practice mindfulness, which is something gardening itself promotes.

Living in the now, staying focused on what you’re doing, and paying attention to your senses helps give your mind a break from the stresses of everyday life. That is what mindfulness is all about.

5 – Start gardening to build friendships

Gardening at home with family or neighbours and friends is a fantastic method to prevent loneliness and develop social ties. Gardening builds a shared sense of community with everyone involved.

Working together on the same goal — growing your gardens! — is a natural and easy way to improve the connections you cherish. 

Gardening at a community garden also has positive benefits. It’s an incredible way to form friendships with new people and a brilliant way to be more involved in what’s going on in your local area.

Joining a community garden is a simple but effective way to form new beneficial relationships and find new friends.

6 – start gardening to find your sense of purpose

Gardening gives you a sense of strength and accomplishment. It also gives you the chance to create something that is yours.

By setting up space in the garden that belongs to you, you can begin to feel a sense of control that you may have been missing in your life. Daily stresses may feel out of your hands, but just knowing you have a space to call your own is such a powerful and beautiful thing.

Growing and creating something you can touch and interact with has very powerful emotional benefits. When you see the fruits of your labour, you gain a feeling of accomplishment and all the beautiful emotions that come with it.

(Plus, by joining a community garden and participating in everything it has to offer, there is the added bonus that you can develop skills that employers are looking for. These skills include critical thinking and communication. These extra boosts could give you the confidence to find a job that leaves you feeling happy and fulfilled).

takeaways

Gardening encourages you to get outside, socialise with other people, and stay fit in a convenient way and enjoyable. It also promotes healthy eating habits if you decide to start growing fruit and vegetables!

Your strength, weight, sleep, and immune system all benefit from all that digging, moving, and planting. And that’s just the physical effects! 

Mental health effects such as developing positive feelings of empowerment, connection, and calmness are just the tip of the iceberg!

There are so many advantages to simply spending time in the garden, in addition to the benefits of gardening for health. Sunlight and Vitamin D can help with mood, skin, and general wellbeing, while fresh air can leave you feeling relaxed and connected with the world.

Whether your garden is large or small, or if you prefer your communal garden, what’s more relaxing than sitting on the soft grass while enjoying the peaceful sounds of nature?

To garden, or not to garden, that is the question! And ‘To garden’ is definitely our answer. What about you?

not sure where to start?

Starting up a new hobby can be confusing. There’s so much information and no set way of doing things. Check out some of the links below in the Resources section. We have collected great beginner’s guides to get you started.

If you want to get started right away but don’t have any tools, one super-effective way of feeling many of the benefits of gardening is practising a technique called Grounding.

Grounding simply involves finding some grass, taking your shoes and socks off, sitting down, and placing the bottom of your feet directly on the ground. Stay like this for as long you like, although we recommend at least 15 minutes. This technique helps promote a stronger connection to nature and the world around you. Plus, you get to absorb some of that lovely sunshine we’ve been going on about!

references

  • Soga, M., Gaston, K.J. & Yamaura, Y. (2017) Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis. Preventive Medicine Reports.5, 92–99. Available from: doi:10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.11.007.Thrive. (n.d.)