It’s time to stop compartmentalizing our conversations on the health benefits of organic gardening. We talk about the perks of the practice in a piecemeal fashion, focusing either on the cost benefits or the health benefits, but rarely do we discuss it holistically. We look at the benefits of a personal garden, but forget to mention how those benefits increase for personal organic gardening.
So let’s take a look at the beneficial parts of organic gardening, so that we can get a better understanding of the gains of the whole.
Gardening is often touted as a form of stress relief, with good reason. Tending a garden forces you to carve out time in your busy schedule to slow down and focus on nurturing life. Although there is plenty to do in a garden, the repetitive nature of much of the work gives gardeners space to breathe, and time to reflect. The repetition can distract from any stress, or provide a peaceful rhythm against which we can reflect on and release our stressors.
Gardening can also improve our sense of self-worth. Growing a little seed into a beautiful full grown plant (whether flower or vegetable, ground cover or fruit) taps into our instincts to nurture life. Nurturing life in a garden helps us feel more connected to nature, to the life to be found all around us. Moreover, watching a garden we planted and cared for spring to life gives us a powerful sense of accomplishment and worth. Visible, touchable (and often edible) results provide those suffering from self-esteem issues with tangible, irrefutable proof of their accomplishments.
Both polls and scientific studies have shown a positive link between gardening and mental health. Those suffering from depression, anxiety and other issues have found significant improvement in their mental health after taking up gardening.
Regardless of your mental health baseline, the same factors that make gardening great for your emotional health contribute to its worth for your mental health. The peaceful rhythms and easily measured achievements of gardening can offer relief to the stressed, anxious, angry or despondent among us. Our emotional and mental health are so interconnected, it’s no surprise that if gardening benefits one, it also benefits the other.
Although technology entices us to stay inside all day, we all still need to get outside in the sun every once in a while. Even without medical proof, common sense and a little experience is enough to tell us that working in the fresh air and sunlight has its benefits. Remember, vitamin D isn’t just a supplement added to your milk or orange juice!
Working in a garden also provides a great, low-impact form of exercise. Gardening can be as relaxing or strenuous as you want it to be, depending on what you desire to tackle. Whether or not you choose to do laps around your garden bed with a full wheelbarrow, gardening helps increase flexibility, stamina, dexterity and strength.
As it is low impact, gardening is an especially good source of exercise for the more advanced in years. However, all physical activities come with risks, especially if you don’t educate yourself on proper techniques and safety measures. Make sure you read up on gardening safety tips, especially if you have back problems.
Gardening has a positive effect on every aspect of our person-hood: emotional, mental and physical. Tending a garden enriches and improves our lives, body and soul. However, we’ve only addressed gardening as a general practice. If gardening is such a benefit, why bother with the added challenges of organic gardening?
Perhaps because organic gardening increases those benefits in unique ways. Gardening organically means that you are working in complete harmony with the environment to create something both beautiful and functional. As such, organic gardening can further reduce stress and anxiety thanks to the knowledge that it offers no dangers to our health or the environment.
Organic gardening removes the environmental and health risks associated with the pesticides and other harmful chemicals often used in gardening (especially on large-scale, for-profit farms). It allows us to become part of a sustainable cycle; our sense of accomplishment connects not just to a single plant or garden bed, but to the knowledge that we have created without simultaneously causing harm. Not to mention the pleasures to be found in eating natural, chemical free food we have grown ourselves.
Gardening, specifically organic gardening, provides unique and holistic benefits to those who try it. Although it is not and cannot be an instant cure all for our emotional, mental and physical needs, the fact remains that it does provide lasting and meaningful benefits for our lives.
About The Contributor: Savannah Marie is a health and wellness writer. She has a passion for fitness and living your best life. She believes that activity is an essential element to wellness, and that fueling your body properly instead of dieting is the key to success. Follow her on Twitter: @savfmarie.