Some of the benefits of gardening are readily observable, like the pride of growing something beautiful or the refreshing feeling of spending time outdoors. But gardening actually offers a multitude of benefits that can improve your health and peace of mind, and even reduce your pain.
All that raking, digging and weeding not only helps you burn calories, it can also release a flood of endorphins. The endorphins, in turn, trigger a positive feeling in the body — a “gardener’s high” — and have been shown to help reduce pain sensations.
Time to Relax
Meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting on the floor cross-legged. It could also be in the garden, with your hands in the soil, surrounded by sunlight. For gardening expert Melinda Myers, “The rhythm of some garden tasks like weeding and planting … redirects your thoughts to the action and away from your stresses and worries.” Meditation has been shown to effectively reduce feelings of stress, release tension in the muscles and, like exercise, help release endorphins to combat pain.
Grow a Balanced Diet
The USDA recommends eating roughly 2 cups of both fruit and vegetables daily. Your garden can help you get there. Lettuce, arugula and microgreens can be grown indoors during fall and winter in a sunny window, says Myers. And short-season plants like radishes, greens and beets can be grown in containers outdoors in fall and moved inside on frosty nights.
Stop and Smell the Basil
Gardens are also a wonderful place for aromatherapy. Basil, for instance, can energize and uplift, and, as an essential oil, help reduce inflammation. Other good plants include lavender, which relaxes and balances the body, chamomile, which relieves stress and anxiety, and thyme, which helps fight fatigue.