It’s that time of the year, spring is in the air, the birds are singing and the snow has melted away. With the current changes with the economy, you may be thinking about growing your own food as a way to save a little extra money. So the thought of gardening has crossed your mind as the perfect opportunity. Gardening is one of my favorite activities because it gives me an excuse to get outside and it is one of those activities that reward you in the end. However, there are many other benefits that gardening can provide as well as many ways it can promote relaxation and reduce stress.
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Benefits Of Gardening
Of course, the ability to grow your own healthy fruits and vegetables to eat whenever you desire is reason enough to want to start your own garden but gardening provides a bushel of other benefits. Research shows it can not only reduce stress but it is a great way to fight heart issues and even boost your memory.
Here are my favorites reasons for growing a garden.
1. Exposes you to vitamin D
Gardening is one of the best ways to get outdoors and stay active but is also a great way to get exposure to the sun to get your body much-needed vitamin D.
This is important because more vitamin D means your body can absorb more Calcium and more calcium means stronger bones and a stronger immune system. Research also shows that vitamin D can help protect you against heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases.
2. Protects against dementia
A study in 2016 at UCLA discovered that gardening not only grows fruits and vegetables but it grows your brain as well. Not to mention the people whose brains increased inside also cut their risk for Alzheimer’s in half.
3. It builds muscle strength
Gardening is a great exercise because it works all the main muscle groups such as your legs, arms, back, and core. However, a study at Kansas State University also discovered it increases your hand strength.
4. Helps you eat more vegetables
If your children tend to not eat their veggies, studies suggest that children who learn to garden eat more vegetables and fruits. The same goes for adults, those who have taken the time to have grown something are more likely to eat it.
Pretty weird but cool!
5. It helps you eat more variety
Gardening is a great way to expose yourself to different fruits and veggies you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. It also allows you to add more variety to your diet allowing you to get more of the different fruits and vegetables and vitamins you need.
How does gardening reduce stress
It is no surprise that being out in the garden is a great way to relieve some stress but did you know that the reason why has to do with a chemical in your body?
Growing a garden reduces the cortisol levels(the hormone released during stress) in your body and it is even more effective than reading a book. Even, if you take a few moments to sit in your garden it is beneficial.
Not to mention that good mood will last you hours.
A number of different studies have shown that engaging with nature has the ability to distract us from our stresses thus providing an effective way to reduce stress. One gardening study even showed that over a 12-week period participants saw improvements in the severity of their depression symptoms and after 3 months they had significant improvements.
Additionally, studies done by Japanese researchers have shown that spending 30 minutes in the woods is an effective way to not only lower your cortisol levels but lower your heart rate and blood pressure as well. A similar study showed 30 minutes in the garden may also boost your mood.
Best tips to use gardening for stress relief
Depending on the amount of time, money, items of choice, and space to work with, gardening can be a great activity to not only reduce stress but it can be a great way to get you out in the sun. While getting started may take a little extra motivation and it may seem a bit difficult at first, with the right information and tips, you will be on your way to a garden that will bring you peace, joy, and a healthy array of fruits and vegetables to enjoy.
If all else fails, at least you will get some nice exercise and get the vitamin D you need.
Here are a few of my favorite tips to help make gardening feel more peaceful as less stressful.
Keep it a hobby
Let’s be honest, gardening isn’t for everyone. So if you are one of those people who don’t like it then you may want to think if you really want to put the effort into it.
On the other hand, if it is something you enjoy but it may be that you don’t have that much time for it or the energy but would still like to benefit from it, then you can still plan your garden accordingly. Plant a smaller garden.
After all, the idea is to be less stressed, not to add more stress to your plate.
Plant what you love
When planting a garden there are many things to take into consideration when choosing plants. For instance, what grows best for your climate, how much sun shade or water is needed, and much more. But you also want to consider what you want to grow.
Your garden is your own creation and therefore you should have a choice in what you grow. No one says you have to grow fruits or vegetables, if you want to grow flowers or trees, the choice is yours. It is your garden and you will want to make sure you enjoy the experience.
Gardening should be a time for one thing and one thing only, a time to focus on the task so you can relax and enjoy the experience. Therefore, you shouldn’t be distracted by things like text, email, and phone calls. That means your phone, tablet, or any electronic device should not be joining you.
A garden is an environment filled with experiences for all of your senses. From the aromas of different flowers to the sounds of different birds. It is a great opportunity to sit in your garden and practice mindfulness as you meditate on all the sounds and smells.
Creating a garden is an opportunity for wildlife to visit your garden as well. You can take advantage of this opportunity by providing safe habitats for birds, insects, and other animals you may want to attract.
This will enrich your gardening experience and make your garden an even more natural and nature-filled experience for you and your family to enjoy. Visit the National Wildlife Federation for tips to help you build safe habitats.
Revel in a job well done.
“Gardening gives you a sense of accomplishment,” says Brown. “It can lead to great satisfaction when those first blooms of spring emerge from the fall-planted bulbs you weren’t sure would grow or when the first ripe tomato is ready for picking.” The beauty you add to your home or the fresh food you put on your table is tangible proof of time well spent.
If you live in an area that makes gardening outside impossible like me(I live in a townhouse), then maybe you think growing a garden isn’t possible.
However, indoor gardening is now something that has been even more possible and in fact, you don’t have to worry about the proper lighting because there are kits even have you covered there. These kits are perfect for anyone living in apartments, small living areas, and even college dorms.
The Miracle-Gro AeroGarden Harvest with Gourmet Herb Seed Pod Kit, Black is a great kit if you want to start gardening indoors. Aerogarden makes different amazing products for indoor gardening, so be sure to check them out.
Plus, surrounding your home with plants is a great way to improve the air quality by naturally filter your home of airborne chemicals.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Gardening for Stress Relief
Gardening is one of those activities that provide different benefits and it can be very rewarding. Although it isn’t for everyone, for those who patiently put in the effort, they will reap the rewards.
It gets you outdoors, experiencing some of the best observations nature has to offer and in return, you get an improved mood, lowered cortisol levels, and even some exercise out of the activity.
For those of us who may not have a yard and who think that they can’t enjoy the benefits of an outdoor garden, don’t fret, an indoor garden and even house plants can give you the same benefits.
So if gardening is something you think you would enjoy, then I hope to hear about your progress soon!