Why does gardening have such a remarkable therapeutic effect?
Several studies have shown the notion that gardening has significant mental and physical health benefits. But the question remains, can gardening be an even more effective therapeutic exercise?
Let's look at people who walked on treadmills in front of screens showing various views. They feel that the exercise was easier; they had a better mood and more self-esteem than those who did not have something to look at. But when similar exercise studies using the same view in black and white or with a red filter, on the other hand, did not yield the same results as those with a predominately green view.
In theory, this may mean that increasing the number of evergreen plants in a garden could improve its therapeutic efficacy. Studies have shown that mindfulness exercises, which focus on the present moment and prevent our minds from wandering to the past or worrying about the future, are an effective therapeutic technique. Gardening is an excellent example of it. It clears your mind and focuses on what's in front of you, mainly because of the seasonal nature of gardening. Many Eastern cultures with a long mindfulness history are focused on the beauty of seasonal flora like cherry blossoms precisely because of their transience, not in spite of it.
It's often said that one of the primary benefits of gardening is the social relationships it fosters and that while all that greenery is healthy for you, it's the people who matter. According to research conducted at community gardens, gardening in such areas has a significant positive influence on one of the key elements underlying poor mental health - loneliness and isolation.
Community gardens hold a lot of promise as therapeutic extensions for persons who have post-traumatic stress disorder, drug or alcohol addiction. Or even to children and adults dealing with the demands of modern city life. Gardening and food production, in particular, generate astonishing results when people work together. Improvements in self-esteem, teamwork, social interaction, planning, problem-solving, and coping abilities, as well as a lifelong enthusiasm for gardening and community, are among them.
Gardeners frequently mention reduced stress, tension, and anxiety when ranking the benefits of gardening. But research shows that this is more than just a feeling. Participants in one study completed a psychologically challenging activity, after which cortisol, a hormone produced in reaction to stress, was measured. Following that, there were periods of gardening or reading. While both groups had decreased stress levels following these activities, the gardening group had significantly lower levels, which indicates that they were physically relieved from acute stress. They also stated that their moods had improved.
Gardens and gardening may help bring serenity and healing to lives, whether you spend your time admiring the benefits of someone else's work or digging in with a shovel and hoe.