The colours of nature emit joy in every season. In winter, especially, the sight of flower power in a garden, warms the cockles of one’s heart like few other natural things. Well yes, the visual of the blooms glistening in the scorching sun, is delightful and soothing. But the joy is greater when you sow the seeds, feed, water and prune the soil, as well as nurture those plants, all on your own. Isn’t it? There’s something more to rejoice. It turns out that the benefits of gardening transcend its mood-enhancing abilities. A new study indicates that gardening can reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases.
The wonders of gardening
Green fingers are God’s gift. One I sadly don’t have! But to see my relatives and friends celebrate their garden spaces, proudly displaying their Pansies and Chrysanthemums in winter and Portulaca and Hibiscus in summer, convinces me that gardening is indeed a joyful activity. In moments that my 60-plus mother finds herself battling loneliness, heading to a nursery or spotting new vegetable or flower blooms at her terrace garden, brings her happiness.
Gardening is something people really find solace in. In fact, in a recent interview, even Hollywood actor Cate Blanchett expressed how her retirement plans could easily spending more time in the garden with her mother and learn how to grow plants. Closer home, actress Preity Zinta opened up about the virtues of gardening that she has discovered. Take a look!
A latest University of Colorado Boulder research, based on a randomized trial of community gardening, indicates that gardening can make people consume more dietary fiber, indulge in physical activity, as well as reduce their stress and anxiety levels. Another study frim UTHealth Houston highlighted how gardening for school students can help to improve metabolic parameters such as blood sugar and cholesterol in kids.
Here are the health benefits of gardening
Several studies have been conducted even in the past around the physical and mental health benefits of gardening. Let’s take a look at some factors.
1. Gardening increases physical activity
The practice of gardening, especially in a community garden or a bigger backyard or frontyard, can be physically strenuous. It involves walking, sitting, lifting pots, digging in the soil, planting, pruning and a whole lot of processes. This helps to burn calories and contributes towards healthy weight.
2. Growing fruits and vegetables can improve diet
It’s natural. When you grow something, you want to be able to reap the fruits (or vegetables)! So, researchers concede that among people who grow produce, establish a healthy attitude towards eating more natural foods.
3. Helps in rehabilitation and recovery
Recently, I came across an article on how a psychiatric facility in Cape Town, has been encouraging its patients to form a connection with nature. There are also mental health charities which explore the therapeutic effects of gardening to promote recovery in patients who may have undergone surgery or are battling with chronic diseases.
4. Gardening can reduce stress levels
Something that makes you happy will automatically bring down your stress and anxiety levels. During the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, many people turned to gardening to beat the blues of the lockdown. According to Indian clinical psychologist Dr Kamna Chhibber, who leads psychological services at the Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Fortis Healthcare, an activity like gardening can benefit mental health in multiple ways.
* It allows people to disengage from the daily stressors. This gives them a mental break from the thoughts that may typically preoccupy a person’s mind. It could be anything – an upcoming examination, a tough presentation, a job interview, a strained relationship – but when you garden, you can take your mind off whatever troubles you.
* Gardening is a way to relax and unwind. Sure, it may leave you a bit tired if you toil too long under the sun, but the feeling of accomplishment and of providing growth in some direction, will put your mind at ease.
* It has been scientifically proven that engaging with nature constructively can prove to be beneficial for one’s overall well-being. So, gardening is a beautiful way to tick mark that activity.
* Gardening can make you more mindful and conscious about living in the moment rather than worrying over the past and stressing about the future. It calms you down.
Also read: More relaxation tips to shoo away stress from your life
5. Makes you more compassionate
Watching the journey of plants from surviving to thriving and fighting for survival, can make you more empathetic. Choosing to take care of plants is a matter of responsibility. You can feel the sense of gratification when a seed turns into a shrub and into a flowering plant. Similarly, you may go through a sense of remorse when you tend to ignore the garden and see the plants dry up and die. Gardening is an activity that needs your heart!
So, are you convinced to give gardening a shot? Well, it may just be worth it for your health’s sake.