How Gardening Helps Mental Health

For many people, gardening is not only a hobby but a step towards positive mental health. Studies have shown that this activity can reduce levels of cortisol, better known as the stress hormone. Harvard School of Public Health has reported more exposure to plants was directly linked with lower mortality rates.

Many gardeners find joy and purpose in caring for their plants. Some people even view them as their children. It has been found that this nurturing instinct is a great way to reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem. People who suffer from mental health problems have said the connection to other living things has given them a source of purpose.


Stress is a large contributor to mental health issues. People find that interaction with another living thing with no emotions or conflict allows their thoughts to ebb and flow in a healthy matter. This sense of responsibility helps to feel a purpose and direction. The physical activity of garden work releases dopamine.

‘Gardening adds years to your life and life to your years.’

As the world becomes more immersed in technology many people turn to work in their garden as a source of relaxation. Caring for plants increases your ability to concentrate and gives you a break from time spent in front of a computer screen. Putting down your phone and picking up a shovel can reduce the reliance on medication and self-harming behavior.

This study has shown that gardening is a stronger impact than an intense workout. Mental and physical health are closely related so it’s important to maintain both for healthy well-being. Horticulture therapy has been long used as a tool to fight depression.


Staying Present

Many people who enjoy gardening have said it has increased their mindfulness. Admiring the fruit of your labor in the garden helps you to put aside your worries and enjoy the beauty of your plants. It has also been noted that this activity can reduce rumination (overthinking). This behavior (obsessive overthinking or dwelling on the negative aspects of one’s past or future) can harm your mental health.

Finding a sense of purpose

Mental health patients often find their symptoms improve when they find their purpose. The hands-on work and the ability to see growth provides gardeners with a form of validation. The pride of showing others your work also increases serotonin levels, another “feel good” chemical.

Strengthen Your Immune System

Getting physical activity and exposure to sunlight helps to build resistance against many forms of disease. Even the dirt under your fingernails is beneficial! Mycobacterium Vaccee, a bacteria that lives in soil has been known to resolve symptoms of allergies, asthma, and psoriasis.

Key Take-Aways

Most people working in their garden are focused and joyful. Gardening is one of the best natural anti-depressants. For little initial investment, you can get started, even a small balcony garden is enough to get started. Whether you are 8 or 80 years, gardening can provide many positive positive effects to your mental health!


This content is not meant as medical advice. Please consult your physician in regards to mental health issues. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit


“Petal Power: Why Is Gardening so Good for Our Mental Health?” Psychology Today, 2015,

“Gardening for Wellbeing: A Scientist’s View.”,

“Gardening Has a ‘Better Impact’ on Mental Health than Hitting the Gym.” Metro, 17 May 2019, Accessed 19 Feb. 2021.

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