You might already have sensed intuitively that gardening is good for you. You relax and you’re working with your hands instead of your head. But how exactly does it work? Psychologie Magazine spoke to English psychiatrist Sue Stuart-Smith and Dutch environmental psychologist Agnes van den Berg. The women explained why we feel better when we’re gardening.
The garden as a tool for combating stress
Sue Stuart-Smith, a psychiatrist in Hertfordshire, England, discovered that her garden was a tool for combating stress. Based on scientific literature she is now writing the book Gardening for the Mind, which will be published in 2018. ‘People who garden are found to be healthier, they recover more rapidly from illness, are less affected by stress and feel happier. Because you’re weeding not just your garden, but also your mind.’
In addition, in your garden you’re working with physical things rather than other people. That gives your brain a rest.
‘You’re not just weeding your garden, but also your mind’
Hello serotonin, bye-bye cortisol
Environmental psychologist Agnes van den Berg of Groningen University has been researching the effect of gardening on our psyche for years. She has shown that gardening reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood. ‘Even if you just show people a film of a garden or forest, they feel better’.
And talking about substances in your brain: researchers at Bristol University discovered that there is a bacterium in garden soil, mycobacterium vaccae, which increases serotonin levels in our brains. That makes you feel more positive and relaxed and helps you to think more clearly. You inhale it simply by turning over the soil. Wow!
What are you waiting for? Get outdoors! Whether you tackle a big job like planting or pruning trees or dedicate yourself to protecting your violas from slugs and snails, your brain doesn’t mind. Even working with a single plant on your balcony helps improve your health.
Read the entire article in Psychologie Magazine (30 May 2017 issue) on this subject.