The Mental Health benefits of growing your own food

The Mental Health benefits of growing your own food

Gardening and growing your own food can have amazingly positive effects on your mental well-being. Not only are there many gardeners out there who will tell you just how much their well-being has improved but new research is proving it too. So much so, that the NHS has started to give out green prescriptions! What is it about gardening and growing food that is so good for our mental health?

There are many reasons why gardening is so good for our mental health but one tangible thing, discovered by researchers at Bristol University and University College London, is that serotonin – a feel good brain chemical, is activated when we touch soil. 

Low levels of serotonin are linked to many mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, and antidepressants work by increasing the serotonin levels. The fact that researchers have found that touching soil works in a similar way is just extraordinary. Talk about back to basics!

Most of us agree that we feel much better when we get fresh air and the sun is shining! Exposure to daylight also increases the serotonin levels plus, it resets the circadian rhythms – the system responsible for making sure you get a good night’s sleep and feel good the next day.

You may have heard that exercising releases endorphins and the same applies when gardening. Gardening involves movements such as walking, lifting, bending, stretching and digging and all of that releases the feel good hormone!

Many gardeners would agree that carrying a harvest basket into the kitchen is a very special feeling and it’s turned out to be something that is hardwired into our DNA! This harvesting high’ is part of our evolution and goes back to when we were hunter-gatherers. The hard work of finding and gathering food was rewarded by a hit of dopamine which ensured our survival! Seeing our homegrown food grow and then harvesting it gives us an injection of dopamine resulting in a ‘harvesting high’, which makes us feel great! 

Research also shows that the stress hormone, Cortisol, is significantly reduced after 30 minutes of gardening! Today’s society is very fast paced and often very stressful, so it’s amazing that gardening can help combat that stress. Your garden can act as your very own meditation and mindfulness studio where you can rebalance yourself. 

Another huge benefit of gardening, which is not to be forgotten, is the sense of achievement. A lot of us also feel that we make a difference to our planet by growing our own food, helping pollinators and wildlife, plus contributing to combating climate change. These are all positive feelings which lift us up and make us feel good.

It is almost impossible to learn everything about gardening and growing food. There’s an infinite way of doing things and so many variables, like the weather, that you have no control over. This is actually a very good thing because it stops us getting bored and instead, feeds into our curiosity making us want to experiment and learn more. This makes it a lot of fun and fun makes us feel good! 

Growing food often starts off as something we want to do for one reason or another but ends up so much bigger than that. It becomes part of our lives because we realise how good it makes us feel and how we can no longer live without it. We get one serotonin and dopamine high after another whilst putting food on our tables, topped off by helping our planet. What’s not to love? You could start your growing journey today with a Harvst S-Series Mini Greenhouse!

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