How gardening is great for your mental health
Nearly a fifth of adults in the UK experience depression or anxiety. That is according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which states that more women report that they suffer from the conditions than men. In our daily life, we deal with an enormous amount of pressure. With overthinking and major life events, such as family bereavement, leading to depression; anyone can be at risk of the illness. However, certain genetic variations may make some more prone to the condition than others.
Anti-depressants are usually the first port of call to treat depression, as they act as a ‘mood enhancer’. However, they don’t work for everyone. But, can gardening help us battle depression? Many believe so, with reports suggesting 87% of people who garden for more than six hours per week feel happier. But why and how is this the case?
Remember to stay busy
There are a few everyday habits you can take up to help with your mental health, however, gardening is particularly beneficial. Tasks such as digging, mowing and planting can keep you occupied for hours on end and always thinking, while being outdoors can increase serotonin in the brain. On top of this, the relaxing ambience provided by being outside can leave you feeling rejuvenated.
Harley Therapy have confirmed the health benefits of gardening. Dr Sheri Jacobson is quoted in Huffington Post saying: “While I haven’t come across anyone claiming that gardening has single-handedly overcome their depression, as part of a wide set of tools, gardening can be beneficial in the battle against depression.
“Being in the outdoors in more natural surroundings can help lift our mood as it brings a sense of simplicity and tranquillity which is therapeutic for many people.”
Take inhaling scents such as lavender, for example – this can alter gene activity and reduce any stress or depression you may be feeling, according to Japanese scientists. Aromatherapy, for example, is used as a form of alternative medicine and relies on scents such as this.
Jasmine is another recommended scent — its fragrance is supposed to help you sleep — and rosemary, which is said to improve air quality, memory function and banish anxiety.
Why not try to grow your own vegetables? Tending to your crops can also provide enough light exercise — at your own pace — to boost your endorphin levels.
Depression can cause many of us to feel out of control, therefore growing your own fruit and veg can help give back some of that power. It’s also thought that folate-rich foods, such as kale and spinach, can help lift your morale. So, what better way to boost yourself than growing it yourself?
When growing your own crops, you release the ‘pleasure chemical’ dopamine into the brain, triggering a state of bliss. This release can be caused by sight, smell and actually plucking fruit, so be sure to plant as many different edible options as possible and get that dopamine flowing!
Mental health illnesses such as depression can drain us of all our confidence, so gardening as a family can be a great way in which to socialise within your comfort zone. Most kids love the garden — and spending time with you —try planting colourful plants such as dahlias and create fun tasks to improve your garden. This will certainly help build your spirits. Furthermore, friendly bacteria that is found in soil can also work in a similar way to anti-depressants by boosting the immune system, according to scientists.
In conclusion, it is clearly worth trying to get into this hobby. Remember though, you are not alone in your struggle, so be sure to talk to professionals and those closest to you if you are depressed. There are many people out there to discuss your feelings with.