Spending time in the garden is a weekend hobby for many people. Planting flowers, trimming trees and shrubs, building orchards, among other related actions, are part of gardening, an activity that helps the individual’s mental health, mainly reducing anxiety and improving mood.
The mental health benefits are as follows:
- Caring for plants forms a sense of responsibility.
Receiving a plant to care for at an early age gives the individual a sense of responsibility. On the other hand, it is a way of learning to care for, respect and know other living beings and their growth, in addition to developing appreciation for nature.
- It enables the individual to be a caregiver and protector.
Plants do not discriminate the age or preference of the caretaker. Gardening is a great difference equalizer. People with mental health problems can develop a feeling of protection and utility around the plant that contributes as a transforming activity to increase personal self-esteem since the effects of their actions can be observed on the plant.
- Connection with another living being and the environment is encouraged.
Gardening can act as a reminder to the person that he or she is not the center of the universe. Self absorption can contribute to depression. The power to focus on the outdoors, even in the reduced form of a patio, can encourage less isolation.
There is research conducted on people within mental health and prison units where the social nature of group gardening was found to be beneficial because it focuses on collective skills and aspirations rather than individual symptoms and deficits. On the other hand, digging and digging in a fenced or walled garden also helps keep vulnerable people within limits, both literally and metaphorically, allowing them to feel safe while expanding their horizons.
- Gardening relaxes and releases stress.
As Freud said, “Flowers are relaxing to look at. They have no emotions or conflicts. ” There is a tranquility associated with this hobby, caring for plants allows the individual to escape situations, people and problems to take advantage of the carefree part of himself to reflect and calm down.
Additionally, the rhythmic nature of many gardening tasks such as weeding, pruning, planting, sweeping, among others, allows thoughts to flow along with movements.
- Working in nature stimulates the release of happiness hormones.
Gardening is a way of exercising and spending time outdoors which is beneficial to the body and mind. When a person exercises, the levels of serotonin and dopamine (hormones that make us feel good) increase and the level of cortisol (hormone associated with stress) decreases.
This activity also contributes to releasing excess energy which helps to have a better rest when sleeping.
- Being among plants and flowers allows us to live in the present.
People who focus on the now decrease their anxiety. Listening, touching, smelling and seeing the garden is a way that allows us to focus on the present and calm the anxious mind. Experiencing the fullness of nature is restorative for people.
- It generates acceptance of the anxiety of death through remembering the cycle of life.
Activities like gardening help to overcome and deal with uncomfortable emotions and difficult life moments including grief. Knowing and experiencing the life cycle of plants generates an understanding that everything that begins ends. It is a symbolic ritual of regeneration.
- It allows to download anger and aggression.
Part of the therapeutic power of gardening is that it allows you to vent anger and aggressiveness, providing an opportunity to nurture yourself. Cutting, chopping, and throwing are destructive activities that help unload these feelings and connect them with the renewal and growth that activities such as planting, fertilizing, and watering bring.
- It generates a feeling of control.
Anxious people are often overwhelmed trying to gain a sense of control over other people, invariably resulting in unsuccessful exercise. Gardening can be a good way to get a sense of control, you are more likely to be successful in controlling the growth and location of a given plant, making gardening a particularly satisfying experience.
- It is an easy activity that can be rewarding for those who practice.
Gardening is an activity that can be done by any type of person. Although there are plants where its cultivation may require more experience and care, getting started in this activity is easy and rewarding for those who do it. On the other hand, it is an activity that does not have problems when carried out in small spaces and with the company of more people.