How To Strengthen Your Mental Health While Gardening

Any gardener knows just how much dipping your hands into some soil and seeing your garden grow can brighten your mood. It has already been proven that having plants around can improve your physical health through improving air quality, but it will be unsurprising to many that cultivating plants can also strengthen your mental health. 

Plants are essential to life. They provide the oxygen we breathe, the food we eat, and for many, anything from an enjoyable hobby to a way of life. 

When you are feeling down or stressed, it may be just the thing you need to head outside and tend to your garden, or even care for some houseplants inside. This, often in addition to regular therapy, can work wonders for your mental health. If you are looking for an accessible way to attend therapy, you can try out MyTherapist, an affordable online therapy provider.

How can gardening improve mental health?

Whether you have tended to a garden for decades or have just begun to learn how to cultivate your monstera plant, you may have noticed just how much joy having plants around can bring you. Not only this but having a purpose intending to your plants can also boost your mood. 

Here are eight ways gardening can improve your mental health and boost your mood:

  • Nature improves your mood

Have you ever looked at a photo of a forest and noticed a calming sensation or you are instantly at ease at the beach? There is no coincidence there, and gardening can offer those same benefits. Numerous studies have proven that even looking at houseplants can boost your mood and decrease feelings of anxiety and stress. Stepping outdoors and feeling the fresh air on your face can be therapeutic.

  • Gardening is skill-building

Having a skill or hobby that you enjoy is essential to a happy mood and decreased stress. Luckily, anyone can learn how to garden. Even basic skills like watering house plants can lead to more advanced horticultural techniques and these special skills can give you an increased sense of pride.

  • You get your body moving

Even gentle exercise can automatically boost your mood. When you get your blood pumping out in the garden, you may just feel the euphoric benefits of movement. Gardening provides an entertaining way to incorporate some light exercise into your daily schedule, on top of its other various benefits.

  • Allows for productive alone time

Being lonely is rarely ideal, so it can be helpful to incorporate some hobbies into your routine that you can use to keep yourself company when you’re alone. Gardening is the perfect hobby to practice by yourself and it allows you to enter a nearly meditative state while you use your hands. Time in the garden can give your alone time more meaning and ward away any negative thought loops that may arise when you’re alone.

  • Increased sense of community

Just like gardening can be the perfect task for one, it can also be a great group activity. More and more neighborhoods, especially where people may have less access to green space, are tending to community gardens. These spaces allow you to enjoy the hobby of gardening while connecting with neighbors and fellow gardeners over your shared interest. A shared love of gardening can start some fascinating conversations.

  • Healthy component of a schedule

Anyone who has felt depressed or anxious knows that these feelings can make it harder to maintain a healthy schedule. Even the things you once enjoyed may be hard to accomplish when you struggle to motivate yourself. When you garden or maintain houseplants, you have a clear schedule of tasks to keep your plants healthy, and the necessity of your caretaking may help you to get motivated.

  • Meaning larger than self

Your plants rely on you to survive and thrive. However, like all living things, they are a natural part of a larger life cycle. Gardening can help you realize that we are all part of a larger world that lives and benefits other beings. When you are feeling down, it can help to feel like you have a larger purpose in the grand scheme of things. 

  • Access to healthier food

On top of all the mental health benefits, you can reap the actual fruits (or vegetables, flowers, or herbs) of your labor from the plants that you cultivate. That means that you can eat some of the foods or plant products that you grow in your own space. Eating healthy has plenty of benefits for both physical and mental health, plus, it feels great to eat something you grew yourself.

How can I receive the most brain benefits out of my garden?

While gardening has plenty of benefits for your mental health, it may be difficult to reap them when you are just starting out, or if you often experience difficulty maintaining your mental health. However, a few tips and tricks can help you to realize just how beneficial gardening can be for your mood. 

First and foremost, it can be helpful to practice mindfulness while you garden, but also throughout your day. Take note of your mood without judgment and pay attention to the different things that you do that may cause your mood to change. This way, while you garden, you’re also spending time noticing your emotions and caring for your brain the way you’d care for the plants you tend. 

If you notice that you feel happy while you garden, you could double those emotional benefits. On the other hand, if you notice any strain, mindfulness can help you notice it and acknowledge it with time to manage the feelings.

It may be beneficial to pair your gardening practice with therapy. Talk therapy can be a great companion to hobbies like gardening, as chatting with a therapist can help you to address any problems out loud. Therapy can work with your gardening practice to improve your mood, while techniques learned on both occasions may positively impact the other practice.

Gardening can be one of the most beneficial hobbies for one’s mental health, as it combines time in nature, exercise, caretaking, social time, mindfulness, and healthy eating. Anyone can pick up gardening or care for houseplants and there are many different ways you can benefit from these activities. Even just starting small can dramatically improve your mental health.



Guest Contributor

Marie Miguel 

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with MyTherapist.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.