140 Middletown – Lincroft Road, Lincroft, New Jersey 07738 Hours: Monday-Tuesday 8-5, Wednesday 8-6, Thursday-Saturday 8-5, Sunday 9-4

                                                                  

Why I Garden: To Relax and Reduce Stress

Delving deep into a pile of mulch with their bare hands, a gardener is free from all other thoughts except for the task that is in front of them. Their mind becomes clear and focused while they work at shifting the dry matter around bushes and plants and stress seems to melt away. Gardening tasks like these seem so insignificant to passersby, but they are exceedingly important to the ones who care enough to perform them. Most gardeners can't tell another person why exactly that tending to their plants is so relaxing, but it could be because of all of the following benefits that it has on the body:

Lower Heart Rate

Working for at least an hour a day in the garden has been shown to lower a person's heart rate when the tasks that are performed are simple ones. Digging up a large plot of earth by hand or installing heavy fence posts is more physically demanding though. So these tasks don't qualify initially, but once they are finished, the heart rate is reduced to a healthy one. Strangely enough, the type of garden that someone works in affects the amount of tranquility that they feel. Japanese style gardens seem to have the greatest impact in lowering stress levels.

Serotonin Boost

When a person is involved in a pleasurable experience, their body produces more of a mood-boosting hormone called “serotonin,” which helps relieve anxiety and depression. But gardeners get a double dose of it when they care for plants every day. As they bond with the plants and nature around them, they release a bonding hormone called “oxytocin.” It promotes feelings of relaxation, and it also raises serotonin levels. That means, the more often that someone gardens, the better that they will feel emotionally.

Improved Focus

It takes all of the senses working in unison to garden. So most people would think that this would tire someone who struggles with concentration, but it actually has the opposite effect. When a person has been forced to concentrate all day long at their job, the involvement of all of their senses in any gardening activity helps sharpen their mind's ability to focus on tasks once again. Gardeners can use this to their advantage by beginning to work in the garden immediately after feeling stressed or before they do a task that requires a lot of concentration. Since most people can't bring their garden along with them to work, they might find it helpful to have two or three houseplants to care for at their job instead.

Decreased Nervous System Response

Stress is part of a cycle that is hard to get out of. Too much of it increases the sensitivity of the central nervous system of the body, so it starts releasing stress hormones for minor issues that someone is dealing with. Gardening temporarily reduces this response by lowering the rate that the sympathetic nervous system reacts.

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