Gardening is one of the activities that is often identified with the hobby of older people. Some young people today would rather spend their time browsing the internet, playing with their phones, playing games, or watching videos on YouTube. Some even consider gardening a boring activity. The reasons also vary, either they do not have time, do not want to get dirty, do not like to arrange plants, or because of fear of insect bites. Do you know that gardening can be an effective means to reduce stress and make you more relaxed?
The Benefits of Gardening to Mental Health
What do you like to do in your spare time? What activities do you find therapeutic for you?
Gardening is one of my hobbies. I find it therapeutic to my mental health. With gardening, I can plant and maintain plants that I like, ranging from various types of flowers, vegetables, to fruit.
Although not all homes have a yard for plants, gardening can still be done in an urban environment, by utilizing flower pots, used plastic containers, or using a landless (hydroponic) planting system.
Whatever the place and medium, gardening and maintaining plants have benefits for your health.
Gardening and mental health
Why is gardening good for mental health?
Tim Lang, Ph.D., a Professor of Food Policy at City University London, said that “making regular direct contact with plants, animals and the natural environment can improve one’s physical health and mental well-being.” Gardening can be a positive alternative to dealing with physical or mental health problems for both children and adults.
Here are some health benefits of gardening that you should know about.
1. Make yourself creative and be more patient
Gardening can increase one’s creativity. People will think of what types of plants are suitable for display to add aesthetic impression on the home or what plants they would like to grow to eat. While building creativity, patience is also unwittingly trained. This patience lasts from the beginning of planting to plant care and can be beneficial in all facets of life.
Hilda Burke, a psychotherapist, said that “what makes gardening different and unique from other activities such as sewing or baking is that this activity indirectly connects humans to the earth”. Touching the soil, planting something, patiently waiting for the results, and raising the seeds will offer valuable lessons for one’s personal life.
Well, this is what makes people who love gardening become patient, loving, responsible, and can also use these skills to take good care of themselves.
2. Close to nature
No doubt if planting will make you come in direct contact with nature. The soil, plants, water, air, and sounds of nature will keep you connected to other living things. Gardening can act as a reminder that you are not the center of the universe. That is why gardening is a good way for you to learn to care for and respect your fellow living beings.
Besides, this activity is also one way to develop an appreciation of natural wonders. So do not be surprised, if many people claim to do this activity as a way to meditate on whatever they have done and achieved so far. This is what reminds someone to always be grateful and respect their fellow living creatures and all of the natures’ wonders.
3. Sports facilities, strengthen hand muscles and mind refreshment
Gardening will encourage you to exercise and spend more time outdoors. Because the activities such as weeding plants, fertilizing, and watering the garden will make you keep moving and requires a high level of concentration. Although it looks tiring, this is certainly good for you, right?
The activities of cultivating the soil, moving plants, cleaning plants, and watering require the strength of the hand muscles. As a result, the hand muscles will be trained automatically so that muscle strength increases.
When the strength of the hand muscles increases, the muscles in other body parts will also be awakened. For example, abdominal muscles and chest muscles. This means you don’t have to bother doing sit-ups, push-ups or lifting other weights to build muscle because you can get it by gardening.
In addition to relieving boredom and feeling at home, this activity will also make you actively move while breathing fresh air and getting to know the surrounding environment.
Remember, whatever is good for the body, will also affect your mind later. Gardening can provide you an outlet and time to refresh your mind while working through any difficult thoughts you might be going through.
4. Sharpen your memory and maintain brain health
Apart from being a form of exercise that is good for your body, gardening can also be a brain exercise. What is the correlation between gardening and brain health? This is based on the results of research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The scientists found that planting and caring for plants in the garden was a powerful way to maintain cognitive health, increase brain volume, and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent. This is because, in addition to involving physical activity, gardening also requires high concentration.
A study revealed that gardening can maintain brain health because this activity will make the mind become busy and focused while opening up opportunities for social interaction with people outside the home.
This is very good for brain health, especially for the elderly (elderly) who are at great risk of experiencing dementia later in life.
5. Prevent disease
Diseases arise due to unhealthy lifestyles and lack of movement in the body. The body needs to sweat it out to get rid of toxins and poisons from food consumed. Through gardening, the body will move so that it can sweat. That way, the body can release toxins, protecting the body from disease.
Do not forget to balance it with adequate rest, eat healthy food, exercise, and drink plenty of water, to avoid excessive body fatigue. Gardening results in the body becoming fresher and fitter.
Another benefit of gardening: rewarding hobby
Some people might think that if you want to garden, you need large tracts of land. You can start small. A hanging pot or several pots with green plants that refresh the eyes on the edge of the window can also increase your spirits every time you see it.
Don’t have money to buy a pot? Relax, you can still use other materials available at your home, such as used cans, drink bottles, old soda bottles, milk jugs, and other plastic containers.
To me, gardening is also a rewarding hobby. I feel happy to see my plants grow. Then when it comes the time for me to pick the fruits or harvest the vegetables from my garden, I feel proud of myself.
Are you one of those people who like gardening as a positive hobby, and often earthing or doing barefoot activities on the ground? There is a reason behind the pleasant sensation that you feel when planting and in direct contact with the ground.
Experts have also linked the benefits of soil in dealing with mental disorders, including depression. What are these benefits like?
The benefits of soil for mental conditions, proven science
The soil has benefits as a natural antidepressant. So no wonder, psychiatrists have also suggested gardening therapy, to overcome mental disorders. Gardening can reduce the symptoms of anxiety disorders, depression, reducing the hormone cortisol, a stress hormone.
So, how are the benefits of land for psychological conditions? The following explanation.
1. Soil bacteria have anti-inflammatory effects for stress resistance
The soil turned out to contain the bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae, which can produce certain fatty acids. These fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects, so they can provide resistance to stress. That’s what concluded the experts from the University of Colorado Boulder, United States.
The journal Psychopharmacology shares the results of a recent study of researchers, which purifies anti-inflammatory fatty acids, from these soil bacteria. Then, they tried to synthesize and test mice as test animals.
From this procedure, the scientists found that the fatty acids were related to certain receptors (signal receivers from outside the cell). The binding of fatty acids with these receptors inhibits the molecules that cause inflammation.
Researchers recommend that, although soil bacteria are known to have benefits to relieve stress, the mechanism needs to be further investigated.
In previous studies, scientists have also concluded, children who grow on plantations and are familiar with animals, have a stronger immune system than children who grow in cities.
Thus, village children tend to have stronger stress resistance, as well as a lower risk of suffering from mental disorders.
2. Soil bacteria to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder
The research group above had also previously conducted a study to explore the effects of the administration of the bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae on the prevention of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a psychological disorder, which occurs after experiencing a traumatic event.
This research was conducted on mice as an experiment. The scientists concluded, mice given soil bacteria have a lower risk of suffering from colon inflammation related to stress.
Not only that, the benefits of soil bacteria for these stress conditions, provide ideas for scientists to develop stress vaccines. This vaccine is expected to help prevent stress-related mental disorders, in people who work under high mental stress.
3. Soil bacteria to treat depressive symptoms
Studies at the University of Bristol have proven this in mice, where the effects of natural bacteria on the soil have the same effect as antidepressant drugs. When the level of depression decreases, the mind becomes calmer, so you can sleep peacefully.
In a study published in the journal Neuroscience, the experts concluded, bacteria in the soil can activate brain cells to produce serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical that is related to happiness.
Start gardening to feel the benefits of the soil
The benefits of soil and bacteria above, you can get easily, with gardening. Gardening has become a therapy that is applied in several places, so it is also worth trying.
Starting gardening, to get the benefits of the soil, can be done with the following easy steps.
- To start a hobby of gardening, try to plant easy plants first. For example, aloe vera or cactus.
- Look for an adequate place and environment. For example, on the balcony of the house for those of you who live in an apartment or boarding house. Choose a place that gets enough sunlight.
- Do not force yourself if at a certain time you are too tired. It is important to remember, the purpose of gardening is to please yourself. So, don’t let it be a burden or like a chore to you.
- Search for favorite plants. For example, look for flowers that match your favorite color, remind you of your family, or the first type of flower given by your partner. Look for plants that can remind you of beautiful moments.
If you like to start a food garden on a budget, check out this article.
Notes from WeStressFree
Experts have proven the presence of bacteria in the soil that can calm feelings.
Gardening is not only an activity that can be done during free time, but gardening also provides many other benefits for us, including being closer to nature, becoming happier, and most importantly, making the body healthier. Instead of your free time just filled with playing games and viewing social media, it’s better to do other positive activities like gardening.
If you have never done gardening before, don’t hesitate to start. You can also invite other family members. The benefits of gardening for health are not only for adults, but even children and the elderly can also feel it.
However, there are important things you must remember, namely if you are allergic to a type of plant or flower pollen, you need to be more selective in choosing the type of plants that you will grow. Avoid plants that may trigger allergic symptoms or flowers that have a lot of pollen.
After gardening is finished, you are also encouraged to take a shower immediately and change clothes to cleanse yourself from allergy-triggering substances that might stick during gardening.
If during gardening you experience allergies that cause swollen faces, shortness of breath, or even weakness, consume or use allergy medications that you have. If the complaint does not improve, immediately check with the emergency room or the nearest doctor.
Good luck! 🙂
Stay safe, happy, and healthy!
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