Gardening for Mental Health


Mental Health has become a subject that most, if not all of us, have had to address in some way. Put your mental health first and get some self care by gardening this Spring. Outdoor time is proven to help relieve stress and increase mental wellness. Exposure to soil, sunlight, and nature stimulates the release of neurotransmitters that help to reduce anxiety, depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) that lots of us are experiencing.

There are many powerful positive effects of gardening on our own mental health when we work with plants. Gardens are considered therapeutic. They specifically address a person’s psychological, spiritual, physical and social needs.

The bacterium strain, Mycobacterium vaccae (that is in soil) has been shown to trigger the release of serotonin (a hormone that helps to stabilize moods, regulate feelings of well-being and happiness, regulate anxiety, and control sleep) when a person has direct contact. Skip the gloves – and get those hands dirty!

Another positive effect is sunlight, which also is a serotonin stimulator. Sunlight exposure appears to be an effective treatment for winter-based seasonal affective disorder. This type of depression is related to changes in the seasons and it saps the energy and can make you feel moody and sorrowful. Getting regular sunlight exposure can have positive effect on these symptoms.

By getting outside and exercising in the garden daily at least for 20 minutes you get regular doses of mood enhancing medicine. Ecotherapy is gaining more and more interest as people learn about the science of being outdoors and especially having or helping in a garden.

(The Wellness Garden: Grow, Eat, and Walk Your Way to Better Health – Shawna Coronado)