The simple act of getting your hands in the dirt, walking barefoot on the lawn or sitting in your garden observing the sights, sounds, smells, touch and taste of the fruits of your labour, has many emotional, physical, mental and psychological benefits to your health.
Think about common phrases like:
- “bring you back to earth” meaning returning to reality and
- “being grounded” meaning being fully conscious and fully present in the now
Certain soil bacteria release serotonin [the happy chemical] into our brain, which helps to relieve stress. Some soil bacteria are also natural anti-depressants and help to strengthen our immune system.
You also receive a hit of dopamine when you see your garden flourish. Think about the natural high you feel when you pick a flower, vegetables or fruit. Dopamine is released into the reward centre of your brain and you feel that you want more, so you continue to garden.
There are other positive benefits to being among your garden and green spaces; it has been proven to increase recovery rates from illness and surgery as well as lowering blood pressure and pulse rates, increasing liveliness and lowering mortality rates. Consider some of Australia’s great long-lived, happy gardeners: Edna Walling, Alan Seale, Colin Campbell and Peter Cundall [still going strong] to name just a few.
Gardens and green spaces also help reduce anxiety and aid your concentration. Remember, some of our greatest thinkers and scientists did their best work outdoors: Plato; Aristotle; Buddha and Newton under his apple tree.
Green healing does not stop outside. You can bring this joy into your home and workplace. Australian studies have shown that potted plants can reduce air toxins by as much as 20%. Similar studies in Europe have shown potted plants in the office can reduce ‘sick leave’ by up to 60%.
Look at including these health-boosting plants into your garden:
|Aloe vera: Break a leaf to reveal the sap to rub onto your skin to relieve burns, bites, itches and rashes. It is both an astringent and antiseptic|
|Coriander / Cilantro: Good for digestion and has been shown to positively reduce blood pressure|
|Lavender: The scent aids relaxation, sleep and nausea and it great at attracting bees to your garden|
|Mint: A calming and soothing herb. Use it to ease an upset stomach, indigestion and relieve bloating|
|Rosemary: Crush some leaves and inhale the scent. Traditionally used to help alleviate muscle pain, improve memory and concentration, boost your immune and circulatory systems.|
So next time you are gardening or enjoying the fruits of your labour, think about how much good you are contributing to your own health and wellbeing.
If you would like to read more from Glenda you can visit her blog: Growing Snowballs
If you would like to write a guest blog, further information can be found here: Earn Yourself a $50 HOSELINK Voucher
Feet in the Garden Image Credit: Ross Brown @ Your Life Photographer.
N.B. This article has been written for Australian gardens. If you're reading this from around the world, we do hope you've found it a useful stepping stone for your own further research.