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How Just a Month of Gardening Can Reduce Depression, Anxiety

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The idea of sipping a cup of tea in the early hours of the morning, surrounded by the greenery of a private garden that sways with the breeze while filtering rays of the sun, sounds rather peaceful. Turns out, it can actually benefit our mental health too — especially if this garden is something we’ve nurtured ourselves.

Published in the journal PLOS One, a new study attests to the therapeutic benefits of gardening. It found that subjecting a small group of healthy women between the ages of 26 and 49 to a four-week-long gardening intervention improved their mental health.

“We believe this research shows promise for mental wellbeing, plants in healthcare, and in public health… At the end of the experiment, many of the participants were saying not just how much they enjoyed the sessions but also how they planned to keep gardening,” stated co-author Charles Guy, from the department of environmental horticulture at the University of Florida.

The reason why gardening improves people’s mental health may have to do with chemicals in the brain. The Permaculture College, Australia, notes that harvesting the fruits of one’s labor boosts dopamine — a “feel-good hormone” — in the brain, leading them to experience a sense of pleasure, or even euphoria. It is also suggested that coming into contact with soil — and, more specifically, Mycobacterium vaccae, a bacteria found therein — can trigger the release of serotonin, the “happiness hormone.”

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