Many people today feel that gardening is the perfect antidote to the modern world, a way to reclaim what we’ve lost in our busy everyday lives. In recent studies, gardening has been shown to ease your stress, keep you limber, and even improve your mood.
In a study in the Netherlands, two groups of people either read indoors or gardened for 30 minutes after both completing a strenuous task. The group that gardened were shown to not only be in better moods, but also had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than the reading group.
“Trading your BlackBerry for blackberry bushes is an excellent way to fight stress and attention fatigue,” says Andrea Faber Taylor, Ph.D., horticulture instructor and researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Not only does gardening give you fresh air and sunshine, but it also gets your blood moving and gives you physical exercise. By digging, planting, and weeding, you are able to stretch, use your strength, and challenge yourself with more physical activity.
In a study conducted in Norway, people diagnosed with depression, persistent low mood, or bipolar disorder spent 6 hours a week growing flowers and vegetables. After 3 months, half of the participants experienced a great improvement in their depression symptoms. After 3 more months, their moods continued to be better even after the gardening program ended.
“We live in a society where we’re just maxing ourselves out all the time in terms of paying attention,” says Taylor. “The breeze blows, things get dew on them, things flower; the sounds, the smells. All of these draw on that form of attention.”
If you have any other health care or medical concerns, there are many treatments for common illnesses that one can pursue.