A common mistake in our fast-paced Western lifestyle is trying to live out the idea that our lives can be compartmentalized, that each section of our lives operate independently of each other and doesn’t affect the other areas. So, we see people running themselves ragged in one area of their lives, such as overworking on a regular basis, who are then surprised that other areas of their lives are impacted by this, such as personal relationships being neglected or health being neglected due to not enough time given to that area.
Fortunately, though, with a little forethought, the activities that we use to unwind can have remarkable benefits across our lives. In the same way that exercising regularly gives you more energy and mental focus to do a better job at your job, choosing the right hobby can cause beneficial “bleed-over” into the rest of your life.
Take, for example, gardening.
Many people think of gardening as just something that retired people do to keep themselves busy, but there are very real benefits gained from gardening, regardless of your age. One benefit of gardening is improved emotional health and mood elevation. CNN Health reported:
“In a study conducted in Norway, people who had been diagnosed with depression, persistent low mood or ‘bipolar II disorder’ spent six hours a week growing flowers and vegetables.
“After three months, half of the participants had experienced a measurable improvement in their depression symptoms. What’s more, their mood continued to be better three months after the gardening program ended …
“Mycobacterium vaccae, a harmless bacteria commonly found in soil … increase the release and metabolism of serotonin in parts of the brain that control cognitive function and mood — much like serotonin-boosting antidepressant drugs do.”
Beyond emotional benefits, which would certainly benefit anyone dealing with a stressful occupation, for example, research has shown that gardening improves overall health without a person having to invest time specifically toward exercise. Dr. Mercola theorizes that this may be because “your body was designed to be engaged in more or less constant movement.” He continues,
“Research published in 2012 found that those who engage in community gardening projects have considerably lower body mass index (BMI) than non-gardeners, suggesting an active lifestyle indeed translates into improved weight management.
“Male and female community gardeners were 62 percent and 46 percent less likely to be overweight or obese respectively, compared to their non-gardening neighbors.”
Dr. Mercola also notes that gardening can have nutritional benefits, as well, because of the possibility of intentionally crafting a diet of better food choices and also because of the option of choosing to use organic growth methods for your food. He writes,
“The ability to grow your own high-quality, pesticide-free foods is one of the clear advantages of gardening in the first place, as minimizing toxic exposures is an important health aspect. Urban gardens help save energy, protect water quality and topsoil, and promote biodiversity while beautifying densely populated communities.”
He also mentions that “The National Garden Association (NGA) estimates that while the average U.S. family spends $70 per year to plant a vegetable garden, they grow about $600 worth of produce — that’s a $530 return on your investment.“
With this variety of benefits, if you are not already a gardener, we recommend that you consider adding gardening into your lifestyle.