The Healing Power of Gardening: Science-Backed Therapeutic Benefits
With progressive companies now facilitating an afternoon nap for staff — because a 26-minute nap can improve performance by 34% and alertness by 54% — office gardens could become a rising trend – and be something to draw people back to office environments.
IN THIS POST, WE EXPLORE THE THERAPEUTIC BENEFITS OF GARDENING AND HOW IT CAN NURTURE BOTH THE BODY AND MIND — AND FOSTER COMMUNITY.
Gardening is more than just a hobby to nurture plants or a way to grow fresh produce. It has proven to be a powerful therapeutic activity with numerous physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Over the years, scientific research has increasingly demonstrated the positive effects of gardening on overall well-being. Whether you have a spacious backyard or a few pots on a windowsill, gardening can offer a multitude of rewards:
1. Stress Reduction
Numerous studies have highlighted the stress-reducing effects of gardening. Spending time amidst nature and tending to plants can help lower cortisol levels, the hormone responsible for stress responses. One study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found that just 30 minutes of gardening led to a notable decrease, in the stress hormone, cortisol.
Another study conducted by van den Berg and Custers (2011) found that gardening led to a more significant decrease in cortisol levels compared to other leisure activities. The rhythmic and repetitive nature of gardening tasks, such as weeding or watering, induces a state of relaxation, making it an ideal stress-busting activity.
2. Improved Mental Health
Gardening has been linked to improved mental health and a reduced risk of mood disorders.
Researchers from the University of Bristol and University of Essex (2017) found that individuals who engaged in gardening experienced reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. The act of nurturing and seeing plants grow can provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment, enhancing feelings of self-worth and satisfaction.
3. Physical Exercise and Health
Gardening is a fantastic way to stay physically active, contributing to overall health and well-being. It involves a range of activities such as digging, planting, weeding, and harvesting, which help improve cardiovascular fitness, strength, and flexibility
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gardening for just 30-45 minutes can burn around 150-300 calories, equivalent to moderate-intensity exercise.
4. Cognitive Benefits
Gardening is an excellent cognitive exercise. It requires planning, problem-solving, and attention to detail.
A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (2016) suggested that gardening may reduce the risk of dementia by as much as 50%. Engaging in regular gardening tasks stimulates the brain, enhancing memory and cognitive function.
5. Connection with Nature
In our fast-paced, urbanised lives, we often become disconnected from nature. Gardening provides an opportunity to reconnect with the natural world. This connection has been linked to increased feelings of happiness and improved mental well-being.
According to the Scientific Reports journal, a study by Matthew White et al. (2019) revealed that spending just two hours per week in nature significantly correlated with better overall health and well-being.
6. Social Interaction and Community Building
Gardening can be a social activity, promoting interaction with neighbours, friends, and fellow gardeners. WaterUps’ involvement in a number of community gardens across Australia has shown us first-hand how gardening can foster a sense of belonging and cooperation among participants.
A study by Wakefield et al. (2007) found that individuals involved in community gardening reported higher social cohesion and greater trust in their communities.
A recent SBS article on a gardening project in Sydney’s Blue Mountains highlighted how a community gardening project helped participants overcome feelings of loneliness and depression, while also providing healthier and more affordable food.
Healing Power of Gardening Grows & Grows
The therapeutic benefits of gardening are undeniable, and the evidence supporting its positive impact on physical, mental, and emotional health continues to grow. Gardening offers a holistic approach to well-being, combining physical activity, cognitive stimulation, stress reduction, and a connection with nature. Whether you have a vast garden or a small balcony, cultivating even a few plants can bring about a positive change in your life.
Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or contemplating starting a small herb garden on your balcony, embracing this green hobby can lead to a healthier, happier, and more fulfilled life. So, the next time you feel overwhelmed or in need of a mood boost, consider spending some time with the earth, sowing seeds, and nurturing plants – for in doing so, you’ll also be nurturing your own well-being.
Garden in Your Workplace with WaterUps
If you are looking to improve the mood and mental health of your workplace, why not give us a call at WaterUps.
We can provide your workplace with the materials and knowledge to take advantage of the back to nature approach to wellbeing. Growing food for lunch or flowers, or plants for comfort and memories, WaterUps has a solution for every need.
WaterUps provides the optimal environment for growing plants, meaning the results will be more dramatic and the process much more rewarding.
With thanks to photographers for images: Benjamin Combs, James Kovin, Filipp Romanovski, Jamie Fenn, Kenny Elias, CDC, and Eyoel Kahssay.