Written by Cordy Plymale, Non-Profit Management Intern
Just like every person has their own physical health which they take care of with exercise, healthy eating habits, and positive lifestyle choices, every person also has mental health which they need to take care of in unique ways. Mental health is often less talked about than physical health but it is just as important to our well-being. One out of every five adults struggles with a mental health disorder. Thus, considering and attending to our mental health is vital to promoting overall health and happiness. Gardening has been shown to be a great way to foster better mental health.
Here are some ways that gardening helps grow positive mental health:
Mindfulness: Gardening is a great way to practice being present in what you are doing. Focusing on the task at hand and connecting with nature helps you to tune in and thus, be more mindful. This encourages relaxation and disconnection from external distractions and stressors.
Social connections: The garden environment provides a great opportunity for people with similar interests to come together and share not only expertise but also friendship. Building relationships with others helps decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation. Friendships also increase our sense of belonging which is a major contributing factor to mental health.
“Shinrin-yoku”: This Japanese phrase which translates to “forest bathing” encapsulates the idea that being surrounded by greenery, to put it simply, makes us feel good. In fact, being exposed to greenery, especially that which is biodiverse, is linked with reduced anxiety and depression, increased longevity, and better stress management.
Physical benefits: Maintaining good physical health has a huge impact on our mental health. The strength and aerobic activities involved with gardening, such as raking and digging, act as a great way to get exercise. Not only that, but the sunlight and vitamin D you get from being outside, as well as the nutritious produce that comes from gardening also promote good physical health.
Self-esteem: When you plant, tend, harvest, and share your own produce you get a great sense of gratification. Gardening is a journey and when you finally get the fresh, nutritious, and delicious produce in your hand, you feel a great sense of accomplishment.
Mental health is important- grow yours with gardening!
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