Autumn Gardening & Mental Health

by Margo Lewis

Most people start to think about gardening in early spring, and see the fruits of their labor in the summer months. But autumn can be a good time to grow vegetables like winter squash, potatoes, beets, carrots, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, parsnips and herbs. There are less tangible benefits, to be sure. 

Shorter days and long nights can take a toll on your mental health. Gardening as the days grow shorter will enable you to squeeze the most out of those waning daylight hours. Daylight, as we head into the autumn and winter months, is bound to make you feel better. Spending time in the garden, even for as little as 10 or 15 minutes,  is a mood-booster. Here are some other top gardening benefits:

  1. Lowers stress and anxiety. Gardening brings us close to nature, which in turn reduces stress and anxiety. Spending time in a relaxing, meditative activity can actually lower blood pressure and elevate your mood. Try taking five deep breaths, in through the nose, out through the mouth, when you start, to lower cortisol levels. 
  2. Improves self-esteem. Gardening makes you feel good and builds confidence as you begin to see tangible results. Neatening up the lawn, watching your vegetables and herbs grow big enough to nourish you and your family, and enjoying the beauty of a bouquet of flowers that you planted is rewarding and confidence-building.
  3. Increases vitamin D. Spending time outdoors all year round can increase exposure to vitamin D, which supports the immune system, and maintains bone strength. 
  4. Enhances your focus. Gardening is a repetitive, meditative process. It teaches us patience, and cocoons us in quietude. It requires patience, and attention to detail, which can lead to enhanced focus. 
  5. Exercise! A physical activity, gardening burns calories and releases endorphins, just like any workout, to reduce stress and enhance your mood.

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