Life can be pretty stressful, which is why it’s so important to find ways to promote physical and emotional health. Have you ever thought about gardening? Studies suggest that it just might be a great way to improve your sense of well-being. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the research and how to get started.
Why Gardening Heals
Even if you’ve got good coping strategies, anxiety can take a toll on our bodies. We might tell ourselves not to worry over things we can’t change, but it’s easier said than done. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by life, science suggests that you might want to start a garden.
In one study, participants were asked to engage in daily gardening activities and were monitored over a 12-week period. By the end of the experiment, the group reported improvements in symptoms associated with depression during, immediately after, and three months following the end of the study.
We also know that cortisol is a hormone released by the body when we’re experiencing stress. Chronically elevated levels can make us more likely to experience emotional distress, impaired immune function, heart disease, and even weight gain.
Interestingly, a Japanese study showed cortisol levels (and blood pressure!) dropped after participants spent just 30 minutes in nature. A Canadian study supported these findings and discovered that cortisol levels dropped and mood improved from gardening for the same length of time.
What this means is that, by spending just half an hour of your day outside growing plants, you could be doing so much to protect your health.
How to Get Started
First things first—leave your smartphone inside the house. Instead, use this as an opportunity to be fully present while connecting with the outside world. After all, research shows that excessive mobile phone use is associated with poor sleep and increased feelings of stress and depression, so do yourself a favor and unplug for a little while.
Now, when it’s time to begin, start small. This is supposed to be calming, so don’t stress yourself out trying to be perfect. If you’ve got the space and want to be ambitious, go for it! Otherwise, a simple planter is perfect whether you’ve got a big yard or just a spot on the porch. Make it easy on yourself so that you can enjoy having your hands in the soil.
With time, your gardening skills will improve and you’ll be ready to take things to the next level. Join some online groups, consult with your local garden store, or even read some books for inspiration. You could really open up the door to something that could become a lifelong passion.
So, why not give it a try? Set aside a couple of hours to get ready, then devote 30 minutes to gardening every single day. There might be a bit of a learning curve to overcome at first, but it could be absolutely worth it.