Being continuously stressed can be very taxing on your health, mood, and overall happiness. Stress is something we all deal with in one form or another, and we all learn to cope with it in different ways. That’s where you have to exercise some caution, however. Oftentimes, coping mechanism may only serve as a temporary bandage solution or even bring about further health problems.
Smoking, for example, is a popular stress reliever, but it’s extremely bad for your health. In particular, it is associated with the risk of cancer. The good news is, there are better ways to manage stress. In fact, several studies suggest that gardening could be exactly what you need to do away with your worries, and enjoy some additional health benefits too.
Much like any other physical activity that people enjoy doing, gardening is considered to be a great stress reliever. It allows you to slow down and reconnect with nature and the world around you, helping to relax the body and give it a break from the bright lights and obnoxious noises of the modern world. Besides, gardening can stimulate the senses. Being around lush greenery exposes you to the pleasant scent of blooming flowers. As you work through your garden, you can spot many small animals lurking in the shrubs. Sounds enticing, doesn’t it? And when a fun activity comes with a pack of health benefits, it only makes sense to give it a try.
Why gardening is good for your health
Relieves stress. After performing a stressful task, half of study participants did some gardening for 30 minutes. The researchers observed that simply getting down and dirty in the garden helped improve overall mood and even reduced cortisol. This study, published in the Journal of Health Psychology, marked the first time when gardening was shown to decrease acute stress levels in a study.
Fights depression. A 12-week therapeutic horticulture study found that clinically depressed individuals suffering from impaired mood and cognitive distortion saw significant reduction of their depressive symptoms. The researchers found that the participants who took part in gardening decreased depression severity and were able to improve their attention capacity.
Lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke. In a study involving over 4,000 people aged 60 and over, participants were able to reduce their risk of death by heart attack and stroke by as much as 30 percent by regularly engaging in home improvement or gardening. Who knew that by doing things most people label as chores can actually prolong your life.
Reduces the risk of dementia. An Australian study investigating the risk factors for dementia found that daily gardening helped maintain cognitive function. The study in question looked at various lifestyle risk factors that may contribute to an increased risk of developing dementia. After following their participants—over 2,800 men and women over 60—for nearly 16 years, they found that daily gardening reduced dementia risk by 36 percent.
Give it a try!
Whether you’re new to gardening or consider yourself a seasoned gardener, it is a relatively easy hobby to pick up. While not everyone has the luxury of having a full-blown garden in their backyards, you can tap into its therapeutic potential by starting with a few plants on your porch or even your windowsill.