Are you an outdoorsy kind of person, or more of a homebody? Perhaps you fall somewhere in between. You enjoy spending time at home and tending to your nest, but you get a bit fidgety if you spend 24 hours cooped up inside. You’re not alone! Many people enjoy being outdoors not for the sense of adventure but for the healing effects being surrounded by natural greenery brings.
Indeed there are multiple health benefits to be found inand surrounded by greenery. For one, fresh air and sunlight reduce stress and elevate our moods. Our melatonin levels are naturally stabilised by natural light sources. Research shows that people living closer to green spaces cope better with inevitable life problems.
This is true even if we do not stray far from our home. The garden can be just as much of a healing sanctuary as the open countryside. It may take some careful thought and planning to create a space for you to enjoy the health benefits that natural environments bring, which is why we put this list together. Below, find ways to redesign your garden for health benefits!
- Create quiet spaces for yourself
Mindfulness and meditation are proven to improve wellbeing and happiness, as well as reducing stress levels. Pair that with an appreciation of nature, and you’ll be well on your way to tackling any stress issues you may have.
Enjoying your garden is half the battle. If you don’t have anywhere to sit and enjoy it, what’s the point? Even if you already have your garden looking the way you want it with all of the plants and trees you enjoy set out in an aesthetically pleasing arrangement, if you don’t have a nice place to sit and enjoy it, it’s all for nought.
This can take many forms; in warmer weather, a cushion on some soft grass might be enough. A permanent addition might bring you more joy, however. Install a bench at one corner of your garden so you can sit and observe your surroundings quietly. A rocking chair or a swinging bench can also induce very relaxed states. Take some deep breaths, and take ten minutes to sit and take in your surroundings.
- Add sensory-stimulating elements
The garden can be a relaxing haven, while at the same time offer some stimulation for your mind. These days we are used to a fairly narrow set of stimuli – generally we let technology take the lead as it entertains us and we sit there passively. However, this isn’t very good for your brain or your imaginative faculties. In order to revive your brain and find joy in sensory stimulation, you can add certain plants or landscaping elements to your garden.
This can mean adding tall grasses to run your hands through as you walk around your garden, or the kind that make beautiful sounds you can simply listen to as you sit outside. Wind chimes and streams are also recommended for sensory gardens.
Stimulate your sense of smell with lavender, mint, gardenia and honeysuckle plants. Their sweet smells will leave you relaxed and happy. You can take further advantage of them by picking the flowers and placing them in cloth bags to perfume your clothes drawers, or make some tea! Speaking of edible garden items…
- Grow some easy veggies
A healthy body and mind also means proper nourishment. Your garden can have an impact on your health by changing the way you eat, too. If you’ve never grown anything before, you’ll want to start small. That means adding vegetable, herb and fruit plants that require little maintenance but have high returns.
Grow foods you will actually eat. If you like salad, try lettuce, tomatoes and greens. For soup lovers, you’ll want to pick leeks, carrots and onions. These are mostly cool season crops (apart from tomatoes, which grow in the warm season), which means they thrive in the early spring and autumn rather than summer.
Herbs are also a great option for a beginner since having them at your disposal may push you to do some more cooking – always healthier than eating out or ordering in! Plus, many of them are perennials (they survive year after year rather than needing replanting each new growing season).
- Turn gardening into a workout
Aside from promoting your mental health as well as healthier eating habits, you can also turn your gardening sessions into real workouts – no need to pay for gym membership when you’re weeding or raking for a half hour every day!
Digging, squatting while you weed and carrying debris away are all great ways of building leg, back and arm muscles while you work. For cardio, sweep faster than you usually would, or push the lawnmower around! It’s also a great excuse to not spend loads on a ride-on one.
If you do everything you need to do to take care of your garden year-round, you’ll be really helping your muscles (including your heart) to stay healthy. However, you can alsoto help you out if you don’t want to do absolutely everything. It’s up to you! Just know, the more you do, the better you’ll feel.
Make small changes and before you know it, you’ll be out in the garden relaxing, picking fruit, veggies and herbs and enjoying the great outdoors. These are all great health promoters, so take this into account while you make a plan for a long and healthy life.