A recent study on gardening—done by the universities of Westminster and Essex—has shown that people who spend as little as 30 minutes per week outside gardening have a healthier mental state than people who do not spend any time gardening.
The study says that gardening lowers fatigue, tension and depression while also boosting self-esteem. It also says that those who garden tend to have a lower BMI (body mass index) than those who do not garden. So, gardening is something that affects physical and mental health!
This study intrigued me, because my grandmother has been gardening since before I can remember. She grows all kind of things, like food, flowers and vines. And she loves taking care of the things that she grows. She knows what flowers will bloom best in which season, she knows just when her grape tomatoes are ripe enough to be picked from their little stems. It’s like she has invested a little part of herself into these little living things that she grows in her garden. My mom calls her whenever she has a question about certain flowers she’d like to pot, whether or not they’ll survive the cold weather, and whether they’ll bloom in the spring or summer. I look forward to the day when I can have my own space to garden, and call my grandmother with my questions—because I know how she loves it.
The results from this study made so much sense to me, because my grandma (Grammy Annie, as she is so affectionately known) is one of the most even-tempered and mentally stable people that I know. And if you take the time to think about it, it really does make sense that gardening can produce such beneficial effects in people. Spending time outdoors in the clean, clear air; using your hands to till the earth and make things grow; lending your heart to small things that need your care to survive; and allowing yourself the patience to watch the things you have planted grow to their full potential.
At Brookhaven Retreat, LLC, we have an entire area on our property dedicated to gardening and allowing our clients to grow and take care of the living things that they have planted. It is a way to unwind, connect with something outside of themselves, and to nurture any part of themselves that needs nurturing. And, according to the study, it is also a way to release anxiety, fatigue and encourage physical and mental well-being.