There are so many benefits to gardening, you get to enjoy fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, etc. But one benefit that isn’t regularly mentioned is the power that gardening has to benefit you physically, specifically by reducing stress. In fact, several studies have been done that show gardening reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Part of the reason for this is that we humans have a natural connection to nature.
There are three main ways our stress is reduced. The first is by physical movement. When we engage in physical movement the tensions we hold in our bodies are released.
Gardening naturally causes us to move our muscles, sometimes doing as much movement as you would going to the gym. Regular tasks like raking, shoveling, and lifting plants add up to greatly benefit your physical health as dexterity and strength can be increased or restored.
The second part to reducing stress is your exposure to sunlight. Sunlight naturally gives off vitamin D and boosts serotonin levels which are important for bone health and mood stabilization. By just being outside in the sunlight you are allowing your body to absorb essential vitamins and better self-regulate your hormones.
As you spend more time in natural sunlight your body can also regulate natural sleep cycles and melatonin levels. If you struggle with getting a good night's sleep, try spending more time outside. Soak up the sun and take a breath of fresh air.
The third aspect to stress reduction is mindfulness. As people spend time in nature they experience feelings of awe. Awe is the emotion associated with wonder and inspiration. If you have ever visited a place that was so beautiful you experienced feelings of joy, awakeness, energized, and amazement, you were likely also experiencing the feeling of awe.
While mindfulness is focused on reflecting within, it can be inspired by experiencing the large vastness of nature. There is something about interacting with the greatness of the natural world that causes us to look within and observe where we are and where we want to be personally.
As you spend time in nature, your garden, or even planning your garden, take time to enjoy all that nature has to offer. Make it a regular habit to reflect on how nature makes you feel. You may even find yourself experiencing feelings of awe as you leave behind life's worries for just a few minutes.