Garden sign that reads "As I work on the garden, the garden works on me"

Get Your Hands Dirty in a Garden to Boost Your Mental Health

One of the best thing about working outside in a garden is the visibility of the results. You can see your hard work pay off as flowers bloom. But there’s another benefit, one that is just as real but less obvious to the eye: Gardening supports your mental health.

AgriLife Wellness in the Garden: Mindfulness May
May 25, 6 – 9 pm

“As many people already knew and others discovered during the pandemic, plant-related hobbies like gardening offer an opportunity to enjoy nature and give a person a more positive outlook on life,” said Charles Hall, Ph.D., professor and Ellison Chair in International Floriculture in the Department of Horticultural Sciences of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Bryan-College Station. Hill was recently quoted in an article from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

Experts from the extension service will teach a workshop on wellness in the garden this month at FWBG | BRIT that will share benefits discovered by Hall and others and suggest approaches to combining mindfulness practices with gardening.

Water droplets pour from a watering can on green plants in a garden.

Hall’s research, presented in an article published in the Journal of Environmental Horticulture, outlines multiple psychological benefits of plants and the activity of gardening. He found benefits including the following:

  • Anxiety and stress reduction.
  • Attention deficit recovery.
  • Decreased depression.
  • Enhanced memory retention.
  • Improved happiness and life satisfaction.
  • Mitigation of PTSD.
  • Increased creativity, productivity and attention.
  • Reduced effects of dementia.
  • Enhanced self-esteem.

Gardening helps individuals distract themselves from worries and helps them find a quiet, relaxed state of mind, Hall explained.

The state of mind can be enhanced when gardeners combine mindfulness practices with the activities of weeding and planting. Mindfulness is described as a a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment. Many mental health experts, including the American Psychological Assocation, have found many benefits of mindfulness, including improved focus and reduced stress, anxiety and depression.

“Gardening is an excellent activity for practicing mindfulness, which is beneficial to overall well-being,” said Miquela Smith, AgriLife Extension program specialist in health, as quoted in the extension service article. “The ability to use our hands, coupled with being outside, makes it less likely to be distracted by phones or other technology. This helps you focus and distract your mind from those things that would worry you.”

Workshop Kicks Off a New Series

The mindfulness workshop is the first of a new year-long series to be offered monthly in cooperation between FWBG | BRIT and the extension service.

“There’s a unique and delightful connection between gardening, health and wellness, and we want to explore it more fully,” said Alaina Woolsey, AgriLife county extension agent for family and community health. “Our goal is to further knit that connection together while providing some practical gardening and nutrition education.”

The program also presents an opportunity for the Tarrant County extension service to share its mission with area residents. “We also hope to bring to light that AgriLife isn’t just for those raising animals or plowing a field. We are here to help better the lives of everyone in our community,” said Woolsey.

The courses will cover a wide range of gardening, health, food and wellness topics, including gifts and crafts from the garden and affordable vegetable gardening. Watch for future workshops, which will be offered the last Wednesday of the month.

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