On a cold, gray winter’s day, when you’re feeling out-of-sorts and grumpy, do you ever imagine plunging your hands into warm, sunny soil and immediately feel a little lift?
I bet a lot of you are nodding “yes.” After all, ask die-hard fans why they garden, and their answers usually go beyond a home-grown tomato or a beautiful front yard. Most people who’ve been bitten by the gardening bug seem to understand how pleasurable it is to putter in the dirt, and how relaxing it can be to make things grow.
Now research is proving what gardeners have always intuitively known – that gardening is great for your mind and spirit:
- In 2009, a Norwegian study tracked the effectiveness of “therapeutic horticulture” in a group of clinically depressed patients. The patients experienced significant improvement of their depression symptoms, and were still less depressed at their 3-month follow-up.
- A 2011 article in the Journal of Health Psychology found that gardening for thirty minutes results in a drop in cortisol levels, the hormone produced by stress.
- In 2011, the School of Health and Human Performance at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia researched the effects of gardening on spirituality, focusing on gardening’s spiritual benefits for people experiencing illness or the loss of a loved one.
As for me? I don’t need science to prove what I already know: that gardening just plain feels good.