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When it comes to improving mental health, people have tried just about everything. From diet to exercise to medication and therapy, there are a range of options that can ease your stress and boost your happiness.
The newest mental health trend? Gardening.
A recent UCLA therapeutic study of 25 psychiatric patients revealed that gardening helped make a person feel more productive. This is because gardening helped take the patient’s mind off of their treatment and encouraged aspects of self-reflection.
According to the study, which ran from July of 2017 to February of 2018, most previous gardening studies have only focused on people outside of an inpatient program. Members of the study hope that more hospitals and psychiatric centers will eventually implement similar gardening programs for their patients.
But even people living in a one-bedroom apartment can benefit from cultivating a small garden.
Gardening is already popular among homeowners thanks to its ability to raise your property value by up to 12%. After all, choosing the right plants for your garden can even protect your home and stop your foundation from eroding. But countless Millennials are picking up the habit as a way to ease their stress and promote a healthier living space.
“People want to have living things in their homes like plants because there also is an emotional attachment,” notes horticulture therapist Patty Cassidy. “We know that nature is life-giving, so there’s that kind of survival instinct that we know nature is really important to us.”
According to Cassidy, people suffering from a variety of mental health conditions, including depression and addiction, can benefit from raising plants in their home. Cassidy also notes that growing plants in urban settings is a great way to feel connected to nature and encourage a sense of belonging.
In a recent survey of more than 2,000 British people, around 81% of respondents claimed that gardening has a better impact on their mental health than traditional methods like hitting the gym. On top of that, one-third of respondents noted that gardening offers a sense of achievement that eclipses the success of running for one kilometer or cleaning their house.
This is because gardening offers a two-punch combo of mental health benefits and physical achievements. Not only does gardening lower your blood pressure, but it can also serve as a destressor and help you practice mindfulness more regularly.
Some British community members have gotten so invested in gardening that many are requesting green spaces from churches.
“In urban areas, there is a real shortage of green space, and churches often have the only green space in a neighborhood,” explains James Newcome, the bishop of Carlisle. “In rural areas, there are real problems of isolation and loneliness. There are all sorts of benefits – therapeutic, meeting up with others, finding a sense of belonging and purpose. [This idea] is not complicated but it can make a huge difference.”
Though there’s no news on whether or not churches will agree to this request, the Guardian notes that mental health issues are among the most common issues in a parish.
Whether you’re hoping to improve your mindfulness or cope with a mental health issue, it might be worth a shot to try gardening.