One of the best ways to keep your stress level down could be right outside your front or back door. We’re talking about the brain-boosting effects of physical activity and the mood balancing effects of green spaces combined in one activity you can do from your own backyard, front yard, patio, or rooftop: gardening.
If you can’t get to the park or out of an urban environment during the week, new research suggests that you can still benefit from the psychological effects that puttering around in a home garden can give you. Horticultural therapy has been gaining traction because of its impact on feelings of wellbeing and stress relief, so it’s also an easy practice to apply to improving cognitive function and can go right alongside your stress-relieving supplements.
To get the proven effects from a recent study involving over 5,000 people who gardened at home, you’ll want to find time to work on your space at least twice a week. Feelings of wellbeing improved with the amount of vegetation in the garden; but no pressure if you’re just a beginner or only have a few feet on a patio! It’s the amount of vegetation that increased satisfaction levels, not the size. Creative terracing, stacked pots, and climbing plants can all maximize the amount of greenery in a small space.
Exposure to green spaces is a well-known way to decrease rumination (or being stuck inside your head with nagging thoughts or continuous replays). The Japanese have a name for “forest bathing”--shinrin-yoku--which means making time to immerse yourself in green spaces and allowing yourself to be present in nature. Other studies have confirmed that the act of gardening has been shown to increase beneficial gut bacteria in children. From children to elderly adults, more studies are coming out which show that working with live plants and soil can benefit the mind and body.
Get a cognitive boost from helping reset your mind and lowering your stress levels by interacting with a garden at home two to three times a week. It’s a powerful tool that gets blood flowing to the brain through physical activity, helps you soak up some Vitamin D, and rewards you with benefits you can see and feel!