Growing a garden does more than beautify your home or put tasty vegetables on your plate. It can brighten your outlook and even help you enhance your mental health in lasting ways—and that makes April, National Lawn and Garden Month, a perfect time to get out in the great outdoors. Whether you live in the country, the suburbs, or the city, you can find a place to garden, even if it’s on your windowsill.
Research shows that spending time among plants and in green spaces benefits your mental and physical health. Whether you plant flowers or raise vegetables, you give yourself a beneficial dose of vitamin D from sunlight and a healthy bit of exercise thanks to the time you spend with a mower, rake, or shovel. You don’t need to treat your gardening time like it’s a power workout to gain these advantages, either—just make them a regular part of your life.
Recipe for de-stressing
The time you spend in your garden combines the benefits of exercise and outdoor exposure with a real sense of accomplishment. As you plan, build, plant, and nurture a garden, you succeed in making things grow, and that’s an achievement that offers an affirmation in itself. Every plant you choose to add represents a living thing that actually appeals to you, whether it’s because of sweetly scented flowers, beautiful leaves, or edible produce.
Plants can make you feel happy and optimistic. You take care of them and they grow, and that cause-and-effect relationship strengthens your feelings of competence. That’s a truly positive way to fend off depression and manage anxious feelings.
Gardening actually enhances your ability to pay attention, which connects directly to learning and intellectual achievement. Those benefits make a big contribution to well-being as you get older and begin to worry about the impact of age on the brain and mental aptitudes. To share those cognitive benefits, garden with your kids, and watch them soak up the ability to achieve more in school.
Gardening with other people—either with family on your own turf or with members of your community in a shared space—can help you feel connected, not only to nature but to other people who value the experience and its benefits. In a community garden, you can enjoy and appreciate what others grow, and receive their praise for your own success.
Keep it as simple as you choose
To get the emotional and physical benefits of gardening, you don’t have to invest in a shed full of gardening implements and stake out a family-sized vegetable patch or a flowerbed that looks like it could stock a florist’s shop. In fact, you may find that starting small—especially if you’re new to gardening or haven’t been in the garden for a while—makes the process easier and increases your success. Find the level that makes you happy and enjoy the benefits of horticulture. Your mental and physical well-being will be the better for it.