Study shows gardening reduces risks of developing depression

The plant lovers are currently having a real moment, Every interior magazine is decked out wth greenery, cottage-core is the new aesthetic to aspire to and now, it's been discovered that plants are actually having a huge benefit on your mental health! Woohoo, thanks basil plant!

There's nearly a sense of achievement in nurturing and growing your houseplant. I bought a succulent a couple of summers ago, who is currently flourishing after a year and a half together. There's something very satisfying in watering and pruning her every so often, checking out her soil situation and seeing tiny new little leaves emerging now and then. It almost feels like self care, looking after this little pant.

green metal garden shovel filled with brown soil

So I decided to investigate further as to why this little thing was bringing me so much joy. I'm no gardener, I'm hardly out with my hands in the soil and my thumbs definitely aren't green, so why is this such a satisfying little ritual?

Well it turns out that gardening has historically brought a feel-good factor, and not just aesthetically either. Apparently being in close contact with nature and regularly nurturing it has many psychological and physiological benefits,. These include everything from ranging from increased pain tolerance, recovery from stress and anxiety through to relaxation and enhanced wellbeing.

person holding garden hose while watering plant

Studies have been done that show even something as simple as looking at plants, a picture, through your window, on a screen, can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, better your immune functioning and increase subjective vitality.

So just imagine what being in direct contact can do!

Actively gardening, specifically in older people, has the psychological benefit of rejuvenation, inner peace, and anxiety and stress reduction, as well as improved cognition. But the physical benefits are more than you would expect. Being outside and pottering about means that gardeners have access to regular sunshine and fresh air, which in turn can regulate circadian rhythms that control sleeping and eating patterns.

Man Planting Plant

Gardening can also be an opportunity for self-expression, self-sufficiency and enhanced self-esteem, especially for older adults who may find themselves losing parts of their identity or purpose with retirement, children leaving home and some more strenuous activities becoming unavailable to them. 

The activity and daily exercise that comes with a gardening routine means that there is a significantly reduced risk of morbidity and lowered mortality rates in a sample of older adults with cardiovascular disease. Regular physical activity in older people can also be associated with reduced risks of developing osteoporosis, reduce the risk of some cancers, Type 2 diabetes, depression and heart disease.

Woman Watering Green Plant

So go on out and grab some bulbs! There's never been a better time to start this super beneficial habit!

(SCOTT, T., MASSER, B., & PACHANA, N. (2015). Exploring the health and wellbeing benefits of gardening for older adults. Ageing and Society, 35(10), 2176-2200. doi:10.1017/S0144686X14000865)

Fiona Murphy is a freelance writer, specialising in book-related content, fiction and poetry. She can be found drinking tea, craving tapas or attempting to finish her never-ending-novel.

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