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Nothing beats the serenity and peace you will find when gardening. It is not a coincidence that doctors recommend this activity to people who have had a great loss in their lives. The feeling of being in the here and now and the ability to switch off the tormenting thoughts is a blessing if you ever find yourself in this situation.

Most people will say they like gardening because they grow fresh vegetables or like to have fresh flowers or even enjoy the exercise. What they don’t realise is the positive psychological effect that this pastime offers.

It is not news that gardening produces a feeling of wellbeing, whether this is because of the feeling of the fertile brown soil in your hands or the ability to enjoy the fruit of you labor, the truth of the matter is that gardening produces happiness, in one way or another. Let’s break down why scientist believe that gardening is beneficial.

People holding plants in a garden

Magical Soil

Most people consider soil distasteful and would rather not touch it.

Scientist have published findings that working with soil, is beneficial to your health and happiness. Soil bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae, are microscopic bacteria that enter your system when you touch soil.

They generate serotonin and dopamine which are both chemicals that produce a feeling of happiness. These are chemicals that are normally present in antidepressant medication.

Being able to get this natural serotonin from the soil will therefore give you a sense of wellbeing and lift your mood. These ‘friendly bugs’ also improve the immune system, and many scientists believe that our modern society would benefit from working with soil as this could ward off instances of asthma, allergies and other illnesses.

Soaking up Beneficial Sunlight and Vitamin D

Although modern society has warned us to stay out of the sun, not getting any sun can also be detrimental to your health.  Use sunlight to stay healthy and happy, and soak up vitamin D which is essential for your body.

No one recommends that you get sunburnt or spend hours in direct sunlight, but with precautions like wearing light clothes and a hat, sunshine can be very beneficial to your health and happiness. Sunlight triggers the release of serotonin which is the wakefulness chemical and instantly triggers a feeling of wellbeing.  

The absence of sunlight triggers melatonin which is the chemical that induces sleep and rest. Your garden does best with ample sunshine, and so will you.

Woman enjoying the sun in her garden

Being out in the Fresh Air

Just being out in the clean fresh air is therapy in itself. People who spend hours indoors at work can truly appreciate the feeling of euphoria when walking outdoors and soaking in the sun and fresh air.

Most people work in closed offices with air conditioners circulating stale air. This can be a health hazard if you don’t make an effort to get some fresh air whenever you can. You will find that people who work outdoors tend to be happier than those that have to work indoors.

Taking up gardening as a hobby after work can be extremely beneficial for your health and happiness.

Getting some Exercise

You might not get a complete workout like you would at the gym, but the passive exercise of gardening will reap other benefits for you.

This type of exercise is stress free and more rewarding in every way.  Being able to see some results from your exercise is another plus factor and even though it won’t feel like you are actually exercising you will be amazed at how much you are actually doing. Time passes quickly when you are completely immersed in what you are doing.

The low impact exercise you get when gardening might not be enough for cardiovascular fitness, but you will benefit by being outside soaking up the beauty of nature.

Sunflowers in the sun

Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Being outdoors and present in the here and now is the part of gardening that reduces stress and anxiety. This is by far the best activity for people who suffer from anxiety as it keeps you active and helps you keep healthy.

Reconnecting with nature is and nurturing plants gives a sense of accomplishment and pride which will reduce depression and hyperactivity. Health benefits recorded from gardening are the reduction of heart disease, diabetes and other lifestyle illnesses.

Gardening is physically exerting in a pleasant way and this pastime is also known to improve sleep.  Stress is measured by the levels of cortisol which is known as the stress hormone. Studies have shown that gardening is the one activity that manages to reduce cortisol significantly.

Benefits for the elderly

Scientific research has shown that people over 60 who enjoy gardening are less prone to developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These findings suggest that the physical and mental activities involved with gardening help with keeping the mind strong. For people in this age group, just walking in the garden can be therapeutic and have a positive impact.  

It is a well-known fact that the sounds, sights and smells of a garden reduce stress and help with relaxation.

Seeing the results of you work

As the days go by, you will inevitable see the fruits of your labor. Gardening is so rewarding that your accomplishments will give you great joy.

Seeing the first flowers blooming or watching those tomatoes growing can also be exhilarating. Pride and joy are the feeling you will have as you see your garden producing, especially when you know that it is all due to your work and dedication.

The Miracle of Nature

Closely watching those seedlings turning into plants and then producing flowers or produce is a miracle of nature. Few have the opportunity to watch this from start to finish, and gardening is one way that you can follow this miracle of nature up close.

Is it possible that people in the old days were happier and healthier because they got their hands dirty and produced everything they ate? Nobody is suggesting that you go to those extremes, but if you want to experience just a small part of being part of nature, take up gardening and reap the benefits.

Vegetables in a basket

Nutrition

If you decide to go all out and plant a vegetable garden, the benefits are twofold. Not only will you experience all the benefits listed above, you will also have the joy of consuming something that you have planted and nurtured.

You will not find fresher vegetables anywhere. Can you imagine being able to go out into your garden and picking produce for a salad? It is no coincidence that people who have a vegetable garden eat more veggies than people who have to go out and purchase these items.

You do not need to have a big garden or be particularly knowledgeable to become a gardener. Work with what space you have and do some research online to find out what the best plants are for your particular garden. You can even start gardening in big containers if space is restricted. You can also join a local gardening club and meet like-minded people who will help and give you advice, especially if you are a novice. However you do it, start gardening as soon as you can and enjoy all the benefits that this activity has to offer.

 

Barbara HerringAbout Barbara Herring
Barbara Herring is a contributor at TheFilix.com, where she writes about everything from hydroponics and aquaponics to regular lawn care. She loves troubleshooting plant problems, and when she’s not knee-deep in her garden, she’s usually skateboarding, surfing, or reading a book.
Email: barbara@the10thcircle.com