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Gardening to Reduce Stress

With spring weather finally approaching, gardening is a common activity or hobby that a lot of people tend to pick up. Now with the Coronavirus knocking on our doors you can enjoy outside, by gardening in the comfort of your own home.

Although a visually attractive backyard is the overall goal for many, some find gardening as a therapeutic pastime for their mind, body and soul. Those who look at it as a chore might not see gardening as a leisurely activity. However, approaching gardening with a positive attitude and an open mind will significantly reduce stress.

In a modern world where people are constantly overloaded with daily responsibilities, it is important to remember to stop and smell the roses. Gardening is a useful tool that is beneficial for people of all ages to get involved in.

Various studies have proven that gardening and stress relief go hand in hand. ​A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology reported that gardening was more effective at reducing stress than reading a book. Another study that appeared in the Journal of Public Health found that working in a garden for just 30 minutes increased self-esteem and mood.

With all of the evidence proving that gardening is a positive, stress relieving recreational activity, a valid question is exactly how planting your flowers provides relief from stress? One of the more evident reasons for this is that gardening is a physical activity which releases endorphins. Physical activity is a known way to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Digging, weeding, planting and harvesting are all physical activities that release endorphins, and help keep you fit. Gardening supports upper and lower body strength, prevents arthritis by putting joints to work, and involves cardio to support a healthy heart. Thus, while planting your beautiful greenery, you will find yourself achieving a full body workout that ensures every single muscle is being used.

Senior communication student, Katie Sharkey, does not garden at this point in her life, but would consider it when moving out of her parents’ home.

 “I think it’s a great way to build something from scratch and make use of the benefits over time. The main reason I would want to garden is to lessen what I am buying from food stores and be able to provide for myself in my own yard. That way, I know exactly what I’m putting into my body without relying on other people to tell the truth about their food practices,” said Sharkey.

In order to battle stress many apply a certain method, mindfulness. Being mindful, or attentive, involves the individual focusing on the moment and is a great way to combat stress and anxiety. By taking in what’s good about the present, worries about past problems and future worries fall away. ​, a website dedicated to providing pointers to reduce stress, points out that gardening has tons of opportunities to be aware of surroundings. Vivid colors, delightful smells, and the texture of soil all stimulate the senses and help individuals focus on the present. Being around other plants can serve as a reminder to be in the moment and not to fear past or future endeavors.​

Jaimie L. Goodwin-Uhler, Ph.D., Field Placement Developer & Coordinator at Monmouth University, and a counseling psychologist, said, “The activity itself can be meditative, allowing a person to slow down, focus their thoughts, and become deeply absorbed in the task. In a world of many hobbies, gardening is one of the more psychologically nourishing options.”

By creating something beautiful in a small peaceful space amidst a busy, stressful life, helps us relax and de-stress. It’s easy to get caught up in daily environments, having a little haven to meditate, relax, or contemplate life can quickly provide stress relief.

Junior communication student, Sam Ciociola, said that he would consider gardening to reduce stress and to know exactly what is in the food he is cooking.  Ciociola said, “Gardening makes you feel productive while also growing your own vegetables.” He further explained how kale and spinach are stress battling vegetables that he could grow in his own garden.

With all of this in mind, instead of reaching for a bag of chips to de-stress, maybe consider getting outside and planting some of your favorite flowers or vegetables. Whether you have a small balcony or a spacious backyard, picking up your gardening tools and getting down and dirty can have a positive impact on your stress levels.   

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University