Under the Hood

Benefits Of Gardening To Mental Health

Being in the outdoors is highly recommended to people with mental health issues. Getting some sunlight and exercising to release endorphins are generally prescribed. However, gardening is rarely suggested as the activity of choice since it is not everyone's cup of tea.

A recent episode of “Think Act Be,” a podcast by Seth J. Gillihan, clinical assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, shed light on the positive impact of gardening on mental health.  

Gillihan was in conversation with Joe Lamp'l, the host of daytime Emmy award-winning show “Growing a Greener World” that focuses on samaritans who use organic gardening and small scale farming to better the environment. From the hour long chat, a few major benefits of gardening on psychological well-being were discussed, such as the following:

Perfectionism and Growth

Lamp'l said that embracing mistakes and making an effort to analyse the reasons behind them could teach some life lessons. “Yeah, I like perfection and love having a good garden. You know what I love more is making mistakes. I look at them not so much as mistakes but as opportunities. And a chance to learn something new. As long as I have been gardening, there is no shortage of things that I cannot learn,” Lamp'l explained.

The analogy could be related to depressed people who are used to thrusting blame on misfortunes. Through gardening, they can understand how to learn and grow from life’s road bumps.

Mindfulness

In the blog published by Psychology Today, Gillihan said that he often feels centered and at ease in his own garden. While Lamp’l explained that time in the garden was sacred to him, and it is when he switches off all material distractions.

Being mindful increases productivity of people struggling to focus on work and have meaningful relationships by reducing emotional intensity. Gardening is one way of perfecting the art of mindfulness. 

Stress

According to Gillihan, he makes sure that he feels the soil in his hands and just switches off from the rest of the world. This reduces stress since it helps one take in the magnificence of nature, especially the sprouting lettuces and ripening strawberries against the sun rays. Doing so brings down stress levels and increases joy through appreciation of the good things in life.

Physical Exercise

"When I do my weeding, I'm on my belly, on my butt, lying on my side—doing a lot of things you probably do in a yoga class," Lamp’l said. He added that he also manages to maintain muscle tone without going to the gym frequently.

gardening Gardening can positively impact mental health. Photo courtesy of Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

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