Gardening for the Mind
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” – Audrey Hepburn
Spending time in nature is like a gift that keeps on giving. Whether in your own backyard, or visiting a local public garden, you’re sure to experience nature’s countless benefits to the mind and body. The healing power of nature has proven to aid in mental health, reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
The warmth of the sunlight, the fresh smell of plants and flowers, and a gentle breeze, all provide a sensory experience that brings us back in tune with our minds and bodies. We feel grounded and part of something larger than ourselves.
Gardening provides a unique therapeutic experience in its positive affect on the brain. The physical activity of gardening boosts neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, helping reduce anxiety and depression. Spending time in green spaces has shown to be a healing aid in attention deficit disorders, grief, and even chronic illness. Nature offers a hope, giving new perspective through the anticipation of change and growth. gardening
Sunlight exposure stimulates serotonin, which is responsible for regulating mood, memory, and impulse control. Simply taking a walk outside may reduce levels of depression and fatigue, boost mood, and improve self-esteem.
The Science of Gardening
May gardening, or “horticultural therapy,” be a good option for mental health interventions? Grounding techniques are used as a way to detach from emotional pain by becoming more in tune with the senses. Doctors and therapists have noted how gardening promotes both a grounding and sensory experience, encouraging mindfulness, and helping to reduce stress by decreasing cortisol levels (the hormone released when under stress). gardening
Scientists proved the positive affects of gardening on our state of mind in a 2016 study, comparing gardeners to non-gardeners. Outcomes of those who had their own garden or helped in community gardens showed these results:
- Less anxiety
- Reduced depression
- Increased quality of life
- Improved sense of community
Another study showed positive effects of soil bacteria and the brain. Mice who were inoculated with soil bacteria had an increase in serotonin (the happy hormone). With the brain and gut being in constant communication, the state of our gut microbiome is largely related to the state of our mental health. In short, spending a little time in the dirt (with its beneficial bacteria), may positively impact our state of mind!
Gardening also provides a feeling satisfaction through cultivating and preparing our own food. This gives a rewarding sense of accomplishment and connection to the world around us.
Try visiting a local Pittsburgh garden, or start your own and experience the healing power of nature! Phipps Conservatory offers gardening classes and its partnered with Grow Pittsburgh, which offers gardening resources and workshops. In the words of William Shakespeare, “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” gardening
About Makin Wellness
Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assited treatment and relationship counseling.