If you weren’t hit by unexpected snow storms in the past month, it is time to prep your soil for planting seeds for vegetables that will keep you healthy through the summer and fall. Don’t think of it as a spring-time chore, but as the doorway to get you outdoors for health and happiness! The health benefits of gardening not only come from the end result, but also the labour of creating a garden.
To my surprise and satisfaction I have come across a couple of studies that prove how gardening has de-stress benefits. One 2016 study from the Journal of Public Health found that gardening improved self-esteem, decreased depression, tension and anxiety. Thirty minutes of garden work provided significant health gains. They also noted that even just five minutes in a natural environment can improve mental well-being. Those who participated in the study also tended to have lower BMI than those who did not participate in gardening.
A similar study by the journal Preventive Medicine Reports also stated the same results when looking at things like general gardening (weeding, planting), yard work (pruning, raking) and spreading compost or mulching.
A 2015 study in the Journal of Public Health found a twist on what may possibly be making people happier and healthier when gardening. They found that people who put their hands directly into the dirt may be exposing themselves to a microbe that may act as an antidepressant. So planting something in a pot for the interior of your home would have the same effect as planting a garden outside. This is something we can do year-round.
I come from a long family line of gardeners from Greece. I’m not as fanatic about gardening as my mother and most of her siblings; however I would say I’m into it more than most my relatives my age. For me it has more to do with eating healthy, teaching my kids what vegetables should taste like, and provides me a little de-stress time.
Gardening is almost meditative to me. I enjoy being quiet and working the earth with my hands. It’s a tradition that has been handed down through generations.
Aristotle once said, “In all things of nature, there is something of the marvellous.” There are so many things nature gives to the world. Gardening can help one find a unique connection to nature, while improving their health.
Although March 12 was National Plant and Flower Day, Earth Day fell on April 22, and April was National Garden Month, most of North America was not in the position to go outside to plant something due to unusual weather patterns.
It’s never too late to be in touch with a little nature. Just looking after one potted plant or herbs inside your home is enough to help deal with daily stress and anxiety.
Get your hands a little dirty for your health.