Benefits of Gardening During Covid-19
This week’s Virtual Plant Clinic topic is facilitated by Joanne Mason, Master Gardener Volunteer for UF/IFAS Extension Flagler County, RN, MS. We encourage you to attend our Thursday Plant Clinic by registering at: https://ufl.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIsc-qrrDMvHtDKgWQOVlAPiXpNQk5w0qaA
“The benefits of gardening at home during Covid-19 is a good way to manage the stress resulting from these uncertain times. Since many of us will continue to maintain social distancing, now is the time to maintain and upgrade our gardens while staying safe and healthy too. Scientific evidence shows that the activity of gardening and just being in the garden, will help to keep you well.
Gardens provide a place for experiencing nature which has been proven to benefit mental health, cognitive function and emotional well-being. It also reduces depression, anxiety, blood pressure and heart disease, all of which, leads to increased quality of life and reduces stress.
Fulfilling Human Needs
The coronavirus lockdown provides the time and opportunity to create the garden you always wanted, while producing a sense of pride and pleasure for yourself and others. And during this Pandemic, I personally have found that I enjoy being outside in the garden as my neighbors and friends pass by – it gives us a chance to chat (using social distancing) either about the new flowers that were just added to the garden, how our families are doing, or the success of new recipes we’ve tried. I believe it has been a lifesaver having others to talk to and knowing they are nearby.
Bring outside and getting your hands in the soil also keeps you connected to nature and provides a place of calm. Not only has gardening been found to reduce cortisol levels (stress hormones), it also offers a sense of accomplishment and purpose in life.
Improving Overall Health
There have been numerous studies that support gardening activities may prevent brain shrinkage in older adults, which improves cognitive abilities, learning and memory functions.
Gardening has been connected with mindfulness and alleviation of depressive symptoms. It also has been found to improve hand-eye coordination, along with finger flexion and joint functions, all of which carries over into our everyday lives.
Gardening has been proven to decrease blood pressure, in fact, just 30 minutes of daily gardening can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. It can also help prevent or slow down osteoporosis.
And while being outside, sunshine offers increased Vitamin D levels and gives us some fresh air to breathe which can sooth the body and mind. In fact, increasing our exercise levels occur when we are just spreading mulch, dead- heading flowers or pulling weeds.
Slowing Down and Observing
Being in our own garden allows us the time to just slow down and observe the diversity of living things all around us. We begin to notice plants with a new perspective; or perhaps take notice of a tiny lady bug on the back of the leaf, and watch how it crawls along the leaf’s edge. Observing nature allows us a time of “artful distraction” to focus more on the world around us and less on issues we continue to dwell upon that are out of our control.
Keeping fit mentally and physically is important at any time, but during the coronavirus pandemic, it is critical. If you have a garden or outdoor space, then you have a place that you can use to maintain your health and mental well-being. Enjoy your outside gardening plans and remember the health benefits you will gain each and every time you venture outdoors. At times of crisis, when we are floundering, looking around for something to focus our minds on, gardening offers a tangible sense of accomplishment – it is good for the mind, body and soul.” – An excerpt from article by Joanne Mason.