We’re living in busy times, involving a great deal of rushing around and too little time to stop and enjoy the roses. Whether it’s a mental health issue or you’re just someone who really needs to find ways to switch off for a while, therapeutic gardening offers so many benefits. That’s because gardening is not always all about hard graft like mowing the lawn, digging up potatoes and cleaning grass stains out of gardening gear, it can also be extremely relaxing. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how gardening can be great for mental health.
Health conditions that gardening can help
There are a number of health conditions that therapeutic gardening has been used to treat. In addition to physical ailments such as asthma and arthritis, connecting with the soil also has a positive impact on a number of mental health conditions too. This includes stimulating mental acuity to help Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, people trying to come to terms with post-traumatic stress, and controlling anxiety and depression symptoms.
Scientific studies developed to assess the impact of gardening on certain mental states and conditions produce extremely positive results, leading to a wide application of therapeutic programmes. It’s not just a case of doctors telling patients to get out in the garden and have a go; therapeutic gardening has been specifically prescribed and programmes formally developed in order to help those in need of it.
Positive mental effects of gardening
As we’ve already established, gardening is widely regarded as having many health-boosting properties, but how so? This is largely because it involves the use and development of a number of mental skills such as learning, problem solving and sensory awareness. When we’re engaging our brains, either on a new project or managing a current one, the stimulation can actually lead to better sleep, lower stress levels and greater productivity.
One of the ways that gardening is said to be therapeutic is how it naturally promotes mindfulness. Rather than worrying about what’s going on in the world, individuals can get immersed in the moment, temporarily forget about other things and just enjoy time passing by in a relaxed manner. In this way gardening can help us be more in the moment. This combined with watching something blossom as a result of your own hard work can really give the psyche a lift. In addition to all of that, the simple act of working with soil has been shown to be capable of lifting moods too. This occurs when good bacteria found within soil trigger serotonin release in the brain, in a similar way to how anti-depressants work.
Using your garden for relaxation
So we’ve looked at the scientific background of therapeutic gardening and the health benefits it brings, but what can you do to use gardening for relaxation? One of the ways to get some relaxation is the simple act of actually setting aside some time for gardening. Whether it’s sowing new seeds or tending to the plants you’ve already got, just prioritising the time to do it helps ensure you switch off every now and then. This soothing activity enables you to connect with nature, and gives you the satisfaction of being responsible for a living thing and witnessing the results of your efforts.
Taking the time to learn new gardening skills is another way of turning off the hectic tap. Learning is great for the mind; from finding out the best ways to develop a veg patch to figuring out how to get grass stains out of clothes, these new skills provide a different focus and take you away from whatever it is you need a break from. Then, of course, there’s the pleasure of sitting in the garden with a nice drink and enjoying the fruits of your labour.
Whether you’re looking to escape the fast pace of everyday life, overcome anxiety or just need ways to unwind, gardening could well be just the ticket.