April is Stress Awareness Month,
so we thought we’d take a closer look at why gardening is so good at cutting stress levels.
We’ve all been there … we’ve had a bad day, or something has got us down, so we head out to the garden to do some work. And before long, we’re feeling much more like our old selves again.
The feeling of improved wellbeing isn’t just in our imaginations. There’s plenty of scientific proof that it’s real. Last year, one piece of international research looked at 22 previous studies into the health benefits of gardening and concluded that yes, it really does alleviate stress.
The researchers said that gardening is so beneficial, that governments should encourage people to do it regularly. And they recommended the provision of public garden spaces to increase access to gardening.
Two major UK studies, carried out by The King’s Fund/National Garden Scheme, and Natural England/MIND also revealed the benefits of gardening in combating stress.
And in the Netherlands, a study found a “significant” decrease in stress – as measured by cortisol levels – after participants engaged in gardening. When the gardeners were compared with participants in the study who read a book instead, they were found to be much more relaxed.
Why does gardening make us feel better? Here are 5 big factors.
1 – Focus: By putting our minds to something that requires care and attention, we are mentally switching off from all the things that are troubling us. The Netherlands study showed that gardening was better for this than other activities.
2 – Creating & nurturing: Tending the garden is a creative and caring thing to do. And if our efforts lead to something beautiful, then we’re creating a haven to relax in. Plus, we get to feel a sense of accomplishment.
3 – Physical exercise: Exercise is a natural mood-booster, but if we’ve had a bad day or week, then gardening is also a way of venting our frustration in a positive way.
4 – Being in the moment: Call it meditation, call it mindfulness, gardening gives us a feeling of space and time, away from what happened earlier or what might happen later. All that matters is what we’re doing now.
5 – Being outdoors: Fresh air, sunlight (or even a cloudy day), being in nature, listening to the birds sing, getting our hands in the earth – all of these things are fabulous for our wellbeing. We’re getting Vitamin D, oxygen, and a surge in the natural chemicals that are responsible for boosting our mood.
No wonder we love getting out in the garden!