5 Mental Health Benefits of Gardening

Today marks National Garden Meditation Day. This got me thinking about all the positive aspects of gardening. Of course it is great for your health as a form of physical activity. It’s always a good idea to get outside and in the fresh air. Vegetable gardens also provide the additional advantage of providing healthy food. This garden meditation day, however, had me wondering about its effect on mental health, so I did some research. Here are five mental health benefits of gardening I discovered.

5 Mental Health Benefits of Gardening

The mental health benefits of gardening have been so well supported and proven that there is a formal practice called horticultural therapy. Some hospitals are even creating “healing gardens” for patients to spend time in and some jails utilize this form of therapy for prisoner rehabilitation.

1. Mental Space

Getting lost in the motions of planting or weeding can open up an expansive of mental space. It is a time when thoughts come and go freely in the same way as they do during meditation. The peace and relaxation found in gardening can help us let go of troubling thoughts or feelings.

2. Time Spent Outdoors

So many studies have shown the mental health benefits of just being outdoors in general. These include better brain functioning, increased energy levels, improved mood, and stress reduction.

3. Positive Distraction

Gardening can be a positive distraction from difficult thoughts, anxiety, and even physical pain. It can also be a productive away to get out frustration and anger while chopping, pruning, pulling, or digging.

4. Bacteria-Serotonin Connection

In studies, a friendly bacteria commonly found in soil, mycobacterium vaccae, increased the release of serotonin in mice. Also, in clinical trials with cancer patients and the bacterium, the patients had better moods, improved outlook, and less pain.

5. Responsibility and Hope

Gardening requires us to become nurturers. We become connected to another living thing. Because of this, it can provide some sense of responsibility and control for this little part of life. Spending time caring for a plant and watching it grow also inspires hope for the future within us.

Brad and I have gone from living in a basement suite, to a duplex, and are currently in an apartment, so having a garden of our own hasn’t always been an option. We’ve tried small garden beds and container gardens, but mostly we’ve been so lucky to have generous friends who are willing to share their gardens with us.

If you don’t have a garden of your own, today you could spend some time at a friend’s garden, a community garden, or a public garden or park.

The best part about gardening is that it is easy. If you don’t have any experience, tend to a hanging basket or potted plant. Plant some wildflowers in your yard. You can start small and still receive the mental health benefits of gardening. As you enjoy yourself and gain confidence, explore further from there.

PS – May 7th is World Naked Gardening Day, just imagine the benefits of that!

Do you garden? What benefits do you receive from it?

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17 Comment

  1. Reply
    Sarah @ Pretty Simple Ideas
    May 4, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Gardening is so cathartic for me!

    1. Reply
      May 4, 2016 at 6:49 pm

      Definitely for me as well. 🙂

  2. Reply
    liz n.
    May 7, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    Gardening keeps me in tune to nature, puts me back in touch with calm and peace.

    1. Reply
      May 8, 2016 at 8:07 am

      Definitely! That is so true. 🙂

  3. Reply
    May 9, 2016 at 7:49 am

    I love your reasons for gardening for mental health. I would add there is such a benefit for our gut microbiome. To play in the dirt is good for the diversity of the bugs in our gut.

    1. Reply
      May 9, 2016 at 9:03 am

      Oh yeah, that’s a great addition!

  4. Reply
    May 9, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    That is so wonderful that being outside and doing what you love can bring peace to your mind.

    1. Reply
      May 10, 2016 at 8:17 am


  5. Reply
    Terry Robb
    May 10, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Thanks for the article, time for me to do some gardening!

    1. Reply
      May 10, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      Vegetable or flower? Enjoy!

  6. Reply
    Sarah Carletti
    May 12, 2016 at 6:06 am

    Well, that is so interesting about the bacteria! Naked gardening? I shutter to think…;)

    1. Reply
      May 12, 2016 at 8:23 am

      Haha, yeah! I can’t believe it’s a day celebrated world-wide.

  7. Reply
    May 13, 2016 at 1:13 am

    So, that’s why I feel good after gardening! Great post.

    1. Reply
      May 13, 2016 at 11:01 am

      You betcha! It’s pretty fantastic, eh? Thanks! 🙂

  8. […] 5 Mental Health benefits of gardening  from Heartful Habits […]

  9. Reply
    Kim Cunningham
    May 18, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    I do love to garden to find peace and balance. I did not know about #4. How cool.

    1. Reply
      May 18, 2016 at 10:27 pm

      Yeah, I thought that was pretty neat when I learned about it too. Our bodies are amazing.

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