March 20th is the International Day of Happiness, also known as Happiness Day! It’s a time to dwell on the importance of happiness and mental well-being in our lives and in the world around us. As we seek happiness for ourselves, our loved ones, and our local and global communities, let’s take a look at how some simple gardening can nurture pleasure in our world.
Mental Health Benefits of Gardening
Gardening has long been recognized as a therapeutic and enjoyable pastime, and research has enumerated those mental health benefits. Studies have shown that spending time in nature and engaging in activities like gardening can improve mood, reduce stress, and decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety.
A Journal of Health Psychology study tested the effect of gardening on stress relief by exposing participants to a stressful task, then assigning them to thirty minutes of outdoor gardening or indoor reading. While both activities resulted in decreased stress levels, gardening resulted in more significant decreases and “positive mood was fully restored after gardening.” Another study found that people who spend at least two hours a week in nature, including gardening, were significantly more likely to report good health and higher psychological well-being.
Food and Happiness
Gardening also brings a host of other benefits that can have cascading positive outcomes for your mental health and happiness! For instance, when you engage in gardening, you are often growing food to eat, like your favorite fruits and vegetables. This promotes a healthier diet and improved nutrition, both of which boost your overall health and, in turn, your satisfaction.
Studies have highlighted a clear link between nutrition and mental health. Diets that include a lot of refined sugar have been associated with impaired brain function and worsened mental health, while clean, whole foods—like the produce you get from your garden—support good brain health.
So if you’re ready to cultivate more happiness and health today, try getting your hands dirty in some potting soil! If you’re in the North Minneapolis area, explore our community garden plots or check out our cooking workshops and recipes to learn the best ways to prepare your home-grown produce!
Here at Appetite For Change, we’re using food as a tool to build health, wealth, and social change in North Minneapolis. Our programs bring our community together to learn, cook, eat, and grow food, creating change that lasts. Donate today to support our incredible community impact! Together, we can create well-rooted and flourishing change!