You can’t put your finger on it, but you know something is wrong. Even if you manage to reduce stress and problems in your life, you still feel listless and a bit anxious. You’ve tried therapy, medicine, even yoga, but nothing seems to combat it effectively. You’re still left with this nagging feeling that something important is missing from your life.
Written by: Maria Cannon
It could be that you’re not in nature enough. After all, humanity grew up in nature and adapted to seeing the sky, trees, grass, and soil. It’s not that skyscrapers, TV shows, or cars are unnatural. All certainly have their place in our lives. But when you keep yourself inside and away from nature for too long, your mind and body start to suffer.
Thankfully, there’s a simple cure to this. Start your own garden.
Humans Need Time In Nature
Our bodies and minds are designed to expect the great outdoors. So when you spend too much time indoors at computers, televisions, or even books, you can slowly start to hurt yourself.
One big problem is ventilation. Even the best ventilated building cannot compare to fresh air outside. (That’s why we call outdoor air “fresh.”) Dust, mold, and dander can trigger your immune system even if you don’t have severe allergies. Asthma and bronchitis get worse for the same reason. All of that just gets worse during winter.
In fact, this is such a problem that there’s an unofficial title for it — nature deficit disorder. While not an official mental health problem, it accurately explains the problem: people spend too little time in nature and are suffering because of that.
Improving Physical Health With Gardening
Gardening is a great way to get some physical health benefits. People who garden regularly have been shown to have less cortisol, the so-called stress hormone. That means gardening can reduce your stress and anxiety. Digging around in the dirt can also improve your immune system.
But gardening is also good exercise. It’s low-impact, meaning it’s good for your bones and joints. In fact, spending three hours gardening on the weekend is about equal to one hour inside the gym. But instead of doing dull, repetitive exercise like sitting on an imaginary bicycle, you’re getting involved in something.
Studies have also shown that gardening leads to lower blood pressure, muscle tension, and cholesterol. That just makes sense. You’re not just reconnecting with the nature our species evolved in, you’re getting some exercise.
Improving Mental Health As Well
Your body isn’t the only thing benefiting from gardening at home. It can also boost your mental health.
The modern world can be rough on the mind. That’s why many Americans suffer from depression and take medication to counteract that. Therapy and medication definitely have their uses, but spending some time in the garden can help as well.
People who garden tend to be happier than those who do not. In part, that’s because soil contains a natural antidepressant that literally makes you happier. But that connection to nature everyone needs is met through gardening.
Gardening Helps Your Whole Self
There are many ways you can try to improve your overall wellness, but it’s hard to beat gardening. Not only does it fight depression and improve your mental health, it boosts your immune system and gives you some decent exercise. That’s pretty good considering gardening is “just” playing around outside at home.