A recent study in the Netherlands suggests that gardening can fight stress even better than other relaxing leisure activities. In fact, the very act of gardening is able to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
It has been found that spending time outside can help reduce feelings of depression, anger and stress. And gardening has also been found to help reduce the risk of diseases such as stroke and osteoporosis.
The simple act of getting your hands dirty in the garden can increase your serotonin levels, because physical contact with soil and a specific soil bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, has been found to trigger the release of serotonin – a happy chemical, a natural anti-depressant- in our brain according to research conducted. Also, all that ‘playing in the dirt’ also has the added benefit of strengtheing our immune system.
Gardening is beneficial because it helps us relax and let go. It enables us to switch off and escape from people and reality. ‘Flowers are restful to look at. They have no emotions or conflict,’ said Freud and this is precisely why tending to plants is so relaxing. For that brief moment in time, the action of being one with nature, allows us to tap into the carefree part of ourselves and forget about all the things that would normally plague our mind.
Gardening is a physical activity and like all physical activities, improves your endurance, strength, mobility and flexibility. Gardening also offers less tangible rewards to your mental wellbeing and physical health. Frequent pottering about in the garden can result in less stress and a higher self-esteem, while immunity, heart health and brain health are improved, so what are you waiting for? pick up a spade and get gardening!
In Singapore, unless you live in a landed property, you probably don’t have much garden space, but that’s fine. Make maximum use of the space you have and create a beautiful green oasis in your own city space.