5 Ways Gardening Relieves Stress
Gardening seems like one of those hobbies that doesn't do a whole lot except make flowers or vegetables. This couldn't be further from the truth. Besides providing natural beauty, gardens make pollen for bees and butterflies, provide safe harbor for birds, and act as stress relief for those of us who participate in the garden's care. Here are five important ways in which gardening relieves stress.
- It gets you out in nature.
Nature has long been touted as a great outlet for stress. The University of Minnesota reports that being out in nature significantly lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and even the production of stress hormones. It even boosts feelings of wellbeing, a necessary component in relieving chronic stress.
- It provides physical exercise.
It may not seem like you're doing much, but gardening is a great source of physical activity. From tilling the soil and raking to planting and pulling weeds, gardening is full of opportunities for exercise. With a general calorie burn of 200 per hour, according to calorielab.com, caring for a small yard adds up quickly. When you add to that the general knowledge that exercise in and of itself drops stress levels, the backyard starts to look better than your local gym.
- It Keeps You Young.
According to Michigan State University, a ten percent increase in green spaces nearby was found to decrease a person's health complaints in an amount equivalent to a five-year reduction in age. Getting outside and getting your hands dirty in your own green spaces can do wonders for your perception of health.
- It exposes you to sunshine and vitamin D.
The vitamin D we get from sunshine is a necessary component in the natural reduction of stress. But did you know it takes as little as thirty minutes of direct sunlight to get your daily recommended dose? According to the National Institute of Health a fair skinned person in a swimsuit can create 50,000 IU within the body over the course of 24 hours. Just don't skip the sunscreen.
- It offers instant gratification.
To think of gardening as a source of instant gratification may seem like a stretch, but it really isn't. Sure, planting tomato seeds and expecting fruit the next day is going to end in disappointment, but the instant gratification of the daily maintenance is truly a joy.
Our brains are hardwired to find the passage of time to be arduous when we are bored. Choose gardening as a hobby to give you something to look forward to daily. Even tasks such as weeding can be rewarding when you stand up and see the progress you've made. When we engage with chores or yard maintenance as instant gratification, we schedule a regular dopamine boost for our minds, and that helps relieve stress.
When you consider how most gardens only need 30 minutes of maintenance five times a week, and how that meets the CDC's suggestion of two and a half hours of moderate exercise per week, gardening seems like less of a chore and more like an accomplishment. Whether it's a huge plot in the backyard or a series of containers scattered about the house, gardening is simple to add to your life and it gives so much back. Be it flowers or food as the result, the journey of stress relief is the best goal for any gardener.