Greenhouse with an open window and light coming in

Since it’s World Mental Health Day on 10th October, we thought we’d take a moment to explore gardening for health and wellbeing, an idea which has been gaining popularity over the past few years. Let’s look into the benefits of having a green thumb.

Mental health is a complex, personal topic, and one that we’re happy to see is becoming much less taboo to discuss as the years go by. People are more open than ever before when it comes to discussing their mental health, their experiences, and ways they’ve found to boost their mood when they need it most.

One of these methods is gardening, an option we know a little something about, so let’s get our hands dirty and explore why gardening for health and wellbeing is being recommended for improving mental health.

Gardening helps reduce stress

Hand holding an unearthed seedling

Evidence is sprouting up everywhere that gardening can help to improve mental health.

One report from the Mental Health Journal found that gardening helped to reduce stress and improve mood, even helping to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

In addition, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) carried out research in 2021 and found that people who spent time gardening every day increased their wellbeing scores by 6.6% while also reducing their stress levels by 4.2%.

Not only that, but time spent gardening also helps to reduce the effect of incoming stressors, allowing you to take things in your stride more easily.

As it’s believed that one in four adults struggle with mental health issues, this connection has never been more important.

Gardening counts as exercise

Someone is checking on their seedlings, sprouting up from the dirt. Getting hands dirty

You may already know that exercise is linked to better mental health, but did you know that gardening also counts as exercise?

Getting out into the garden for an hour a day can burn up to 217 calories, which is about the same calories burned during an hour of:

  • Salsa dancing
  • Slow cycling
  • Golf
  • Horseback riding

Exercise is great for mental health because it releases dopamine, a hormone associated with happiness. By getting a form of exercise via gardening, you not only feel better, but you also create a green space to be proud of.

Seeing the results of your hard work over days, weeks, and months - whether it’s a vegetable patch, a flower bed, or a garden hideaway surrounded by green - can also be extremely fulfilling, and having accessible green spaces are consistently linked to physical and mental wellbeing.

Want to learn more about gardening and mental health?

If you’re suffering from mental health issues, we’d always recommend checking the NHS page on Mental Health to find the support you deserve before picking up your gardening gear, but know that we’re here to help in that department whenever you may need.

We’ll also be talking more this month about the ways gardening can help to grow and strengthen your mental health over time, much like growing something from seed to flower.