If you’re feeling low, irritable, or have difficulty focusing, you’re not the only one. Mental health issues can affect people of all ages. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways we can improve our mental well-being and cultivate positive emotions.
One new study suggests a helpful approach may be gardening! With its ability to help with relaxation and reduce stress levels, this form of outdoor activity has holistic potential when it comes to improving your mental health.
The new study from the American Cancer Society was the first-ever randomized trial of community gardening that found great benefits of gardening. Previous studies have found that people who garden tend to eat more fruits and vegetables. Still, it has always been unclear whether healthier people tend to garden or whether gardening can make people healthier.
For the study, researchers studied 291 non-gardening adults, with an average age of 41, from the Denver area. More than half came from low-income households, and more than a third were Hispanic. Half of the group was assigned to a gardening group and the other half to a non-gardening group.
The gardening group received a free community garden plot, seeds for planting, and an introductory gardening course. Both groups were required to take periodic surveys about their nutritional intake and mental health and wore activity monitors.
After only a few months, those in the gardening group were eating an average of 1.4 grams more fiber per day than the control group. This was an increase of approximately 7%. Researchers were quick to note that fiber has a profound impact on inflammatory and immune responses, which could determine how susceptible we are to chronic diseases such as diabetes and certain cancers.
The gardening group also increased their physical activity levels by about 42 minutes per week. With just two to three visits to the community garden, participants in the gardening group met 28% of the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
Participants who felt the most stressed and anxious at the beginning of the study saw their stress and anxiety levels decrease when gardening.
Linda Appel Lipsius, executive director of Denver Urban Gardens (DUG), said, “Even if you come to the garden looking to grow your food on your own in a quiet place, you start to look at your neighbor’s plot and share techniques and recipes, and over time relationships bloom. It’s not just about the fruits and vegetables. It’s also about being in a natural space outdoors together with others.”
This study provides clear evidence that gardening can play an essential role in boosting mental and physical health. Researchers hope the findings will encourage health professionals to consider gardening a vital part of the public health system.
Managing Mental Health
Stress can take a toll on the brain, affecting concentration, memory, and overall cognitive function. As this study shows, activities such as gardening can help reduce the effects of stress.
The Smart Pill can also help counteract these effects through nine ingredients that help support, nourish, and maximize brain health and cognitive function. These include ginkgo biloba, huperzine A, bacopa extract, rosemary extract, and a B vitamin complex. This unique formula helps boost circulation, fight free radicals, and help to promote clear thinking.