How Mental Health and General Mood Benefit from Horticultural Therapy

How Mental Health and General Mood Benefit from Horticultural Therapy

Family & Living

For numerous homeowners, a beautiful garden conveys a sense of pride. That’s why they hire professional gardeners to tend for their plants, but in reality, they themselves should reap all the benefits of this likable hobby.

Namely, we are referring to the impact gardening has on the general mood and the mental health of humans. From spending time in nature and breathing fresh air to getting a good workout, horticultural therapy is an activity we can all benefit from.

Relieving stress through gardening

The modern pace of life, especially in urban settlements, is too much for most people. When we feel cornered by life, the level of stress rises, causing long-term harm to our mental health. Unless you shift a gear down, stress can lead to more serious mental conditions, such as anxiety and depression.

Since you are in absolute control of your actions as a gardener (the plants can’t fire you or stage a mutiny), there is no need whatsoever to feel under stress. In this sense, gardening is a form of therapy that helps alleviate the effects of stress; moreover, so hospitals have introduced planting flowers as a form of postoperative therapy.

Boosting your mood

When you are no longer stressed out, you can start feeling happy once more. Many business people have forgotten what it means to look forward to the small things in life, so no wonder they take up gardening after they retire.

Something as simple as planting flowers has the potential to seriously boost your mood. You can have the worst day at work, but all the problems disappear once you step inside the garden, ready to cultivate herbs, vegetables, and flowers.

Growing your own food

Men’s Sana in Corpore Sano” [“A healthy mind in a healthy body,”] was the motto of ancient Romans. A person cannot be sent unless they have a healthy body. Exercising regularly and dieting right are the precondition for a peaceful mind, and gardening delivers on both stipulations.

Improving your diet has probably been a personal goal of yours for decades now, but don’t blame yourself for not being able to eat healthier. It is the fault of food producers who take shortcuts in production, while organic food is too expensive for some people.

Luckily, gardening allows you to control the food production process from the seedlings you buy, all the way to the finished product that ends up on the dining table. Furthermore, you will eat more fruit and veggies because they are readily available for picking. Of course, you can supplest your diet with various herbs you can grow in your garden (as an extra benefit, lavender will repel mosquitoes).

A solid workout

Apart from eating healthy food, working in your garden will help you strengthen your body (and spirit). In fact, modern gyms and the weights and machines found there were designed to imitate working in the fields/garden. Digging holes to plant larger trees or mowing the lawn are bound to give you a good sweat. If you’re passionate about gardening, expect to lose a couple of kilograms.

Vitamin D for better bone health

Further on, spending hours on end outside is beneficial for your bones. You probably know that exposure to the sun prompts your body to synthesize Vitamin D. Apart from getting a tan, Vitamin D is essential for bone health as well, since it helps the body absorb calcium.

Calcium is normally found in fish and dairy products but your organism can produce it on its own if you spend enough time out in the open. Of course, keep in mind that you can always “overdose” on Vitamin D, causing your skin to burn. Applying sunscreen is mandatory if you plan to spend the entire summer afternoon working in the garden.

Learn to love the tools you work with

How Mental Health and General Mood Benefit from Horticultural Therapy

A garden cannot be cultivated unless you have the right tools for the jobs. Cheap and old tools should be discarded right away since you need to love the tools you work with. From the 50ft hose reel to the rake, all the gardening tools need to be durable and ergonomic.

Suppose you are unable to find tools that fit the bill, then better not work the land at all. Shopping for the right gardening tools should be as enjoyable as gardening itself. You should take pride in your retractable hose reel and the multipurpose knife because other gardeners don’t own them.

Showboating a little bit will help you build your self-esteem and nurture self-love but try not to convert gardening into a competitive sport.

Improved family relations

Apart from obvious mental and physical benefits, gardening is good for your social life as well. We are mainly referring to improved family relations if you get your family members interested in gardening. Convincing your spouse to join you in the garden shouldn’t be too hard, but children will need persuading at first.

After you “trick” your kids to help you around the garden, they will fall in love with nature. Helping their parents, spending time outdoors, and enough space for running around: what more could a child wish for! When it comes to family bonding, gardening is the ideal activity both grandparents and their grandchildren will enjoy the same.

The final benefit is a valuable life lesson to cherish hard work and stay responsible. They will learn all this by getting assigned with a particular vegetable and taking care of it from the seed to its fruit ready for consumption.

Gardening is not a hobby for lonely people

Sure, you might garden on your own most of the time, but gardening is not intrinsically a solitary activity. Even introverts who don’t enjoy the company of others get carried away with their favorite plant species, so they contact green thumbs from across the planet for advice. In fact, gardeners are long-life learners and frequent visitors at flower markets where they mingle with their peers.

Fraternizing with other gardeners gets people excited to the point their stance on life changes for the better. Furthermore, there are many gardening enthusiasts who live in apartments where they cannot grow a proper garden.

That’s why they drive to community lots, usually located on the outskirts of the city. There they talk and garden together with their peers, many of which they have nothing in common with except the love for nature.

Living in the moment

How Mental Health and General Mood Benefit from Horticultural Therapy

One of the main factors for stress is the fact we are not living in the present moment. Whether it’s past memories or future worries, we can’t seem to live at the moment like we are supposed to. “Seize the day” philosophy dominating numerous cultures and religions teaches us precisely the opposite: to stay present.

The less you ruminate about life, the happier you’ll feel. Gardening is ideal for staying focused on the here and now, because the foliage engulfs your mind and soul, making you think about watering instead of a project deadline, for example.

It is hard to get distracted when there’s a shovel inside your hand, so gardening is ideal for practicing mindfulness. In general, all tasks related to gardening, from digging to a wedding, help us stay in the present because they require our full attention.

Cultivating purposefulness

Once a person loses his/her purpose in life, they start to experience the first symptoms of anxiety and later depression. Without a person or an objective to live for, we start slowly sliding into insanity, but luckily, gardening is there to help. Caring for plants gets you directly involved in a hands-on task that has a natural (pun intended) goal you strive towards.

The ultimate goal of a verdant garden restores the sense of purposefulness to your life, restoring your mental health. After a while, not only will you no longer feel eternal sadness, but you will cultivate happy thoughts as you work in the garden. Feel-good hormones, dopamine, and serotonin will be triggered as we watch the fruit of our labor thrive. 

A stronger immune system

If you take up gardening, not only will you feel stronger mentally, but your whole body will be invigorated. Apart from muscle growth, your immune system will be reinforced. Exposing yourself to natural light (Vitamin D, remember?) alone will have a positive effect on your ability to fight off disease.

Since you are surrounded by fragrant flowers and herbs, over time, you will build resistance against chronic ailments, such as various allergies. If you’re allergic to pollen, then you need to take care of several factors (selecting the right plant species, showering, a change of clothes, etc.) But you can still take up gardening.

Heck, even the dirt that ends up underneath your nails can help boost immunity. The friendly bacteria contained in the soil can alleviate symptoms of asthma, allergies, and psoriasis. It is not a coincidence that all of these conditions are linked to a weakened immune system.

Staying positive

If you’re often depressed because you are unsure about the future, then you can turn into a bitter, negative person. However, if you wish to achieve anything in life, you need to stay positive all the way, but this is easier said than done. Gardening is the trick up the sleeve of numerous happy people.

Spending time outdoors connecting to earth and nature has a positive effect on our mental health. When you improve soil composition or water the lawn, you are actually helping your mind grow and expand to the point it no longer harbors negative thoughts.

Prescribe yourself the recipe for longevity

We’ve mentioned at the beginning that hospitals use horticultural therapy to help patients recover from various conditions, not just mental illnesses. You should think of gardening as a medicine (a green panacea of sorts) that you should prescribe yourself to reach old age as a healthy person.

When you come to think of it, there are numerous alleviating aspects of cultivating plants: voluntarily spending time outdoors, surrounding yourself with greenery on a daily basis, and constantly using (working out) your brain and muscles to complete various chores.

From the general mood you wake up with every day to improving your overall mental health, gardening is a great way to feel better about yourself and your surroundings. In this sense, horticultural therapy isn’t just aimed at people who are suffering from anxiety and depression but to all folks out there who feel under stress, as a prevention method against mental health issues.