Got That Summertime Sadness? Here's How Gardening Makes You Happier
The hobby can provide happiness in a myriad of ways (even if you're bad at it).
Seasonal depression is most definitely a thing, and though many people equate the blues with winter's dreary tones, the summer season can also prompt some pouting. See, summer carries a carefree aura peppered with scheduled vacations and family activities that make it all the more exciting. So when this notably "fun" season comes to a close, many of us find ourselves feeling drained, disappointed, and maybe even a little depressed.
To combat your "summertime sadness" (fitting phrase courtesy of singer Lana Del Rey), you may want to start digging in the dirt. Gardening, many experts say, is proven to make you happier.
Gardening reduces stress
Doing anything as relaxing as gardening is sure to relieve stress, but gardening ranks pretty high on the list of stress-relieving activities. A study was conducted that ordered subjects to engage in a stressful activity. Then, afterwards, half were told to spend 30 minutes reading indoors, and the other half spent those 30 minutes outside gardening. The results? Both camps reported less stress, but the gardening group was considerably less stressed.
Dirt makes you happier
If you've ever noticed an innate feeling of joy while digging or playing in the soil, it's not just because you enjoy getting dirty. Scientists have actually found that soil bacteria can alert your brain to release amounts of serotonin—the happiness chemical. So in being less clean, you're actually allowing yourself to be happier and healthier.
Gardening reconnects you with the great outdoors
This one's pretty simple: you need to go outside if you want to boost your mood. Staying indoors all the time is not healthy for anyone, especially if you're experiencing spells of sadness. Because gardening forces you to take to the outdoors to tend to your plants, you're able to breathe in the fresh air and feel the sun on your skin. Evidence on the correlation between anxiety and lack of time spent outside continues to rise.
Nurture is intrinsic to our being
If you're a parent, you can vouch for this one (yes, you too, dog parents!). Humans are meant to nurture and care for one another, and with plants being living things, the same idea extends to gardening. It is nice to feel needed, and knowing that your plants can't survive without you gives you a sense of importance and purpose.
Gardening gives you a sense of accomplishment
As you spend your time tending to your garden, you will eventually see some progress (even if you swear you have a black thumb). Whether it's a small sprout finally breaking soil or a budding bloom making its first debut, every little win in gardening feels like a big win. It's immensely satisfying to see your plants grow and respond to the care you give them, and that sense of accomplishment is sure to make you smile.
Gardening gets the blood flowing
To quote the ever-relevant Elle Woods from "Legally Blonde": "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands—they just don't!" And the preppy litigator is right. Exercise is known to boost your mood because of the happiness hormones it releases, an explanation for the runner's high people get. While gardening is not quite akin to running a marathon, it is still a form of exercise, and thus releases endorphins just the same. So, go ahead, sweat it out this weekend.