This goes without saying, but spending time in nature (or in a garden!) has direct benefits for our overall well-being. IYKYK—it’s grounding, healing, and therapeutic. It’s also a reprieve from daily responsibilities. It’s imperative to spend time outside, and the research proves it. Data reveals that exposure to green space reduces the risk of various chronic diseases, like high blood pressure and diabetes. Simply put, it makes us healthier. Beyond physical health, time in nature also improves our mental well-being, social ties, and financial stability. Today we’re digging into the importance of gardening. Plus, get tips for small-space gardening!
Gardening for Overall Wellness
Speaking of the outdoors, gardening is a wonderful way to get your hands dirty, learn a new skill, and nourish your body. Whether you have space for a raised garden bed or have limited room for windowsill herbs, gardening is beneficial for your overall health. It combines physical activity with social interaction and exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D—from sunlight—lowers blood pressure, supports hormones, and strengthens immunity. Furthermore, what you grow has a positive impact on your diet. When you have fresh veggies, fruits, and herbs in your backyard, you’re much more likely to reach for these ingredients when you’re cooking. Plus, they taste remarkably fresh! After all, produce picked at peak season is more nutritious and flavorful.
Gardening for Financial Health
In addition to supporting your physical, mental, and social health, gardening also helps you save money. Here’s how it works: A well-maintained food garden yields roughly ½ pound of produce per square foot, every growing season (according to the National Gardening Association). With a 600-square foot garden, for example, you could save roughly $600 on groceries, every year. That’s impressive. Here in Colorado, a few of the best crops to grow in your backyard are leafy greens (microgreens, chard, kale, etc.), tomatoes, onions, peppers, carrots, potatoes, summer squash, and green beans. For a full list, along with growing tips, check out Nick’s Garden Center.
5 Reasons to start a garden
What is one activity that has stood the test of time—and continues to bring immense joy and countless benefits? Gardening. From reducing stress levels to promoting physical fitness, let’s explore the myriad of ways in which gardening nurtures our overall health.
A Natural Stress Reliever
In an era characterized by chronic stress, finding effective strategies to manage our mental well-being has become paramount. Gardening provides an oasis of tranquility, allowing us to escape the pressures of daily life and immerse ourselves in the nurturing embrace of nature. The rhythmic tasks of planting, weeding, and tending to plants can help reduce stress levels. In fact, studies show that spending time in green spaces can lower cortisol (stress hormone), leading to improved mood and overall mental health.
Gardening offers a unique opportunity to practice mindfulness—a state of focused awareness. As we engage with the soil, plants, and the changing seasons, we become attuned to the intricate details of nature. Whether it’s feeling the texture of the earth, noticing the delicate unfurling of a bud, or observing the gentle dance of butterflies, gardening encourages us to be fully present. This mindful connection with nature fosters a sense of gratitude and calmness.
Outdoor physical activity
In a world dominated by sedentary lifestyles, gardening provides a refreshing alternative to indoor workouts. It offers a holistic form of exercise that engages the body in various ways. Tasks such as digging, planting, and pruning promote muscular strength and endurance, improving flexibility and coordination. Additionally, exposure to sunlight—while working in the garden—helps our bodies produce vitamin D and improve blood sugar levels.
Connection and Social Interaction
Gardening is a fantastic way to connect with like-minded friends and neighbors! Additionally, community gardens and local gardening clubs provide opportunities to share knowledge, exchange gardening tips, and develop new friendships. The social aspect of gardening not only enriches our lives but also enhances our sense of belonging and emotional well-being. Working together towards a common goal, such as growing fresh produce or beautifying a communal space, creates a sense of shared purpose and pride.
Nurtures the Soul
Inevitably, witnessing the growth and transformation of a garden nurtures our sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. The act of caring for plants, nurturing them, and witnessing their bloom fills us with joy and a sense of purpose. Gardening also allows us to create our own sanctuary—a personalized space that reflects our individual tastes and preferences. Whether it’s a vibrant flower bed, a bountiful vegetable patch, or a tranquil Zen garden, the act of designing and nurturing our outdoor haven becomes an extension of self-expression.
Small Space Gardening
With all of that in mind, what if you don’t have a backyard—or your backyard doesn’t get much sun? Luckily, you can still grow veggies and herbs! Small-space gardening is very doable, it just requires a bit of creativity. Companies like Gardyn and Lettuce Grow offer vertical gardens that can live in your home (including a studio apartment!). If you have any east-facing windows, these are great for growing herbs. Mint, rosemary, basil, chives, parsley, and thyme grow especially well on windowsills. These herbs can be used in marinades, pasta salads, dips, sauces, grain bowls, and more.
Start your garden, today!
In an increasingly digital world, the value of engaging with nature through gardening can’t be overstated. The mental and physical benefits of this age-old practice are both universal and well-documented. From stress reduction and mindfulness—to physical activity and community connection—gardening offers an all-encompassing approach to nurturing overall health. Whether you have a sprawling backyard or a tiny balcony, start digging, planting, and sowing the seeds of your own well-being.
Images courtesy of Unsplash.
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