The Surprising Benefits of Gardening for Your Wellbeing

  • By Jennifer Mulder
  • 16 August 2020
  • 3 minute read
The Surprising Benefits of Gardening for Your Wellbeing | The Health Sessions

This article is written by Tristan from Sydney Gardeners

Gardening brings with it a host of benefits both for your physical and mental health. The benefits compound on top of each other, as well as with time. It’s how my best habits replaced my worst habits, without even realising it.

Presence and satisfaction

Gardening is so simplistic, that’s the beauty of it. The simplicity of digging, sewing, watering and harvesting. I’ve often found that once I start I forget everything around me until my work is done. There’s a very real satisfaction to harvesting vegetables weeks or months after you’ve put in the work. 

Especially in this day and age, it can be difficult putting work into something without seeing instantaneous results. Gardening takes this concept to the extreme, you may not reap your rewards until weeks or months after you’ve put in the work.

Healthy eating

Many readers can relate that while we know we should eat healthy, sometimes we slip through the cracks. When the veggies you grew, are sitting in your fridge. You’re almost compelled to eat them. Your relationship to food is far different when you’ve created it, rather than picking it off a grocery store shelf. 

When my garden reached a certain size, I began stocking up mostly on vegetables since I couldn’t consume a harvest too quickly. This steady stocking of fruit and veg, made healthy eating a very normal part of my life. 

The Surprising Benefits of Gardening for Your Wellbeing | The Health Sessions
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Reduces time on technology

It’s so easy falling into the habit of technology, apps, devices, emails. All designed to keep you hooked, and half the time we don’t even realise what’s happening. Gardening’s a commitment, but it’s a commitment that keeps us away from some of the modern day vices. 

After a day of work, a lot of us habitually sit down to relax. This relaxation process so often is complemented with technology use. The problem is that we find ourselves sitting down everyday to stare at a screen, and don’t realise how many hours we spend on it.

One of the reasons I’ve found gardening so helpful for my well being, is that I’ll be sitting on my phone, I then realise I need to tend my garden. In doing this, I put my phone down and break my habitual technology use.

As my passion for gardening grew, I began using my creativity and problem solving skills more often. Finding different ways to get rid of pests, how can I improve the overall health of my garden? Or the dozens of different ways to reuse plastic. It made me think, how often would I use these skills when using technology for leisure? 

Physical exercise

We’ve figured out by now, gardening is a rewarding commitment that forces us to start new habits and break some bad ones. If you’re like me, the gym is a huge eye roll. I just don’t like going plain and simple. 

As your garden grows, it’ll require new projects and constant work. You’ll soon be putting in some good old fashioned physical labour without realising it. This combination of moderate exercise and an outdoor lifestyle is even linked to a longer lifespan. When I started my garden, I never went in with intentions to exercise and get moving. I simply wanted to grow some veggies.

The Surprising Benefits of Gardening for Your Wellbeing | The Health Sessions

Stress reduction

If you’re living a busy life, gardening can be that escape that makes you forget everything for a brief period of time. The simplicity of it can be a nice change from the complex or fast pace rush of modern life. Don’t take my word for it, working in the garden reduces cortisol levels. Cortisol is the chemical that your body produces in response to stress. Hospitals are also adding gardens, improving their patients well being and recovery.

Positive effects of gardening on mental health issues

More professions and organisations are seeing the positive effects gardening can have on people suffering various mental health issues. Scientists found just two hours a week spent in nature is linked to better health and well being. There have also been numerous studies on the positive effects of sunlight

Another interesting topic is the positive effects war veterans suffering from PTSD experience from gardening. There have been a variety of different charities that support war veterans in the garden. 

The Surprising Benefits of Gardening for Your Wellbeing | The Health Sessions

Taking the first step

If you’re living in a high rise and would love to start a garden but have little space. You can definitely start a garden anyway. A few pot plants on your balcony, or throughout your apartment will work very well. Balcony gardening is hugely popular, and many garden enthusiasts got started on a balcony. 

Gardening is’t something that requires huge amounts of work or time, you can start small and progress as your interest grows. While you may not receive all the benefits mentioned in this article right away. Over time you’ll notice how the habit of gardening can slowly change your lifestyle choices.

Tristan’s a passionate gardener and an advocate for healthy and sustainable living. He runs the blog Sydney Gardeners where he writes on a variety of topics.

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