It’s no secret that your state of mind has a huge impact on your health. Mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, affect people of all age groups and demographics. Our mental state also affects our social lives. So how do we make mental health a priority in our everyday lives? The answer could be as close as your backyard. Here are five ways gardening boosts your mental health.
Sunlight for Stress Relief
Getting out in the sun to work on your garden feels great. But don’t take our word for it. There’s science to back us up! Sunlight triggers the release of endorphins and serotonin — chemicals that help us relax and calm down. Sunshine and artificial sunlight, like the far infrared used in Sunlighten saunas, are used to treat depression ranging from mild to severe. Doctors say a lack of sun exposure can lead to seasonal affective disorder or depression. So, next time you’re feeling blue, add some greenery to your life. An hour in the garden might be just what the doctor ordered.
Don’t Forget Your Vitamins
Researchers estimated that, worldwide, about a billion people don’t get enough vitamin D each day. A lack of this vitamin can lead to the development of prostate and breast cancer, memory loss and schizophrenia. Doctors also recommend an hour of sun each day for patients suffering from osteoporosis. Vitamin D helps build strong bones, teeth and muscles.
While most garden plants have a life cycle that lasts less than a year, planting a tree is a long-term relationship. Many trees grown for fruits or flowers may not produce for several years. When you see that first cherry blossom or eat that first apple though, those years of care will pay off in satisfaction. Just having trees close by lowers stress and improves health.
The trees you choose to plant should be appropriately sized to fit your property and suitable for your climate zone. Opting for trees native to your region is a great way to ensure they’ll thrive and boost spirits for years to come.
Play in the Dirt!
Most of us spent plenty of time getting dirty in our youth. As we age, it seems fewer activities require us to get our hands dirty. It turns out, some of the microbes that live in soil play a role in our mental health. The microbe Mycobacterium vaccae mimics the effects of antidepressant drugs. Who knew? Maybe that’s why the dirtier kids get, the more fun they seem to have!
Fresh Foods for Feeling Good
Nobody denies the connection between the food we eat and our physical health. The same is true for our mental health, too. The foods we eat play a role in how our minds function and, ultimately, how we feel throughout our days. Among other positives, our happiness and confidence get a boost when we consume more fruits and vegetables. There’s also evidence that suggests raw produce is even more effective at improving mental health than cooked. And since raw vegetables taste the best right from the garden, there’s every reason to get your plot ready for the growing season right now!