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The Health Benefits of Gardening

Posted on: by Alice Paulse
A bowl of flowers to symbolise all the health benefits of gardening

Photography by Unsplash

Time to go green.

Never thought that spending some time getting your hands and knees dirty, could improve your health? Well, perhaps it’s time you read about why you should be spending some time with the ‘skin of the earth’.

Why Is Gardening Good For You?

Would you believe us if we said that out of all the professions – gardeners and florists are the happiest? Mmm, well research done by a UK economist and behavioural scientist Professor Paul Dolan found this to be true. It was discovered that they were much happier than people in more well paid and prestigious jobs.

Another research study conducted by Dr Nancy Etcoff revealed that when fresh cut flowers were present in a home, people felt more compassionate towards each other, had fewer worries and anxiety, and felt less depressed.

The Tri-Factor:

1.Flowers feed compassion – participants who had fresh-cut flowers experienced an increase in feelings of compassion and kindness towards others.

2. Flowers chase away anxieties, worries and the blues- participants in the study felt less negative after having flowers in their home for just a few days. Seeing the blooms in the morning became a need.

3. A boost of energy, happiness and enthusiasm – researchers also found that having flowers at home can have a carry-over impact on your mood at work, too. They found that people were more likely to feel happier and have more enthusiasm and energy at their place at work, as flowers brightened up their home.

Get Grounded

Never mind all the advice about connecting with nature and spending time outdoors, just stepping into your own garden or vegetable patch for a bit has health benefits.

Spending time in your garden and getting your hands dirty can expose you to friendly bacteria in the soil, which has the power to improve your mood and boost your immune system.  Worried that you’re a newbie in the garden? Don’t fret.

If you’re a newbie to a gardening guru you can benefit from the calming effects of mulching, potting, pruning or weeding. The best bit? The stressors of everyday life dwindle as you slowly gain a peaceful and grounded state of mind.

And what is more rewarding than growing what you eat yourself?

Read MoreDoes Gardening Really Count As Exercise?

Gardening Can…

• Lower blood pressure
• Increases brain activity
• Has a calming effect on the one’s mood
• Positively affects mental health
• Counters stress and anxiety
• Cuts stroke and heart attack risk by up to 30% for those over 60
• Reverses “attention fatigue”
• Sense of purpose, satisfaction and achievement

A Norwegian study found that people diagnosed with depression, persistent low mood, or “bipolar disorder” spent six hours a week growing flowers and vegetables. Results? After 3 months, half the participants had experienced a measurable improvement in their symptoms.

Surprisingly, this mood continued three months after the program concluded.

Better Than Yoga?

Spending time in nature is thought to enhance meditation practices by focusing the mind. Gardening has been credited as a type of mediation (similar to yoga) that focuses on being present in the moment.

Zen gardens are perfect for reflection and contemplation, similar to yoga: where your senses are awakened, you enter the present moment, you move to the ‘the zone’.

Weed Out the Creativity

No need to read books on how to spark that creative side of you, gardening is the answer. It helps inspire creativity and allows individuals to express themselves in unique ways. It offers an outlet to connect with oneself, your dreams and passion by creating a space to grow, reflect and nurture.

Being creative = happy humans. Several studies have found that gardeners eat more fruit and vegetables than their peers and people who grow their food tend to eat and be healthier…

Time to wipe the dust off those garden shears, gloves and start planting!

9 October marks the inaugural National Garden DaySo flex those green fingers and do your bit for the environment and yourself. Need some inspiration? Download the Gardening with Babylonstoren app; visit GardenDay.co.za for more info.

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