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Grow a Green Thumb to Improve Your Wellbeing

Updated: Jan 11, 2019

The link between gardening and wellbeing is not surprising. We are living in increasingly urbanised cities and so exposure to green landscapes has dramatically decreased.

Over-exposure to buildings, white walls and concrete grounds can become a stress on our system. As such, adding some green to your life through the hobby of gardening can be a simple and inexpensive solution. Your mind (and the earth!) with thank you for it.

Gardening improves your mood

People who regularly garden report feeling generally more positive, less stressed and more satisfied with life. In one study, participants who were prescribed 30 minutes of gardening showed significant drops in their cortisol levels (the body's stress hormone) and returned to a positive mood-state following the activity.

Gardening gets you outside

Unless we are intentional about it, the great outdoors can often be a forgotten place. For the majority of us, home and work life keeps us inside and we miss out on regular contact with nature and sunlight.

Maintaining a garden forces us to engage with the outdoors and helps to restore a sense of vitality. Several studies have shown that compared to indoor settings (e.g., the gym), outdoor recreation and exercise can provide additional benefits to our mood and stress levels.

Gardening creates a type of sanctuary

A personal space that you create and nurture as your own provides feelings of comfort and peace. Most people can think of certain fragrances that trigger positive memories or moods (e.g., Jasmine during summer; Gardenia blooms along the front porch). These can be planted to help create a sense of 'home' and as part of your own personalised touch. There is something extra satsifying about watching the plants you seeded grow.

Gardening gets you moving

As with all forms of physical activity, our mood and general wellbeing benefits. Gardening is no exception.

Considered a form of exercise with moderate intensity, regular yard work has numerous health and fitness benefits. In fact, research shows that gardening tends to correlate with a lower body mass index and better dietary choices (fresh broccoli anyone?)

Gardening makes you mindful

With the vast array of sights, sounds, textures and smells that the garden offers, it is hard not to 'be in the moment'. Mindfulness is simply about being present and focusing on what is happening (without judgement). This in turn helps to put a pause on worries and distracts us from negative or other stress-inducing concerns. A big green thumbs up to that!

For inspirational ideas and DIY guides visit Gardening Australia.


Clinical Psychologist, Sydney, Australia

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