Hobbies have a therapeutic effect on people, especially when they are dealing with chronic pain. Gardening specifically has multiple health benefits, both psychological and physical. Imagine you are outside on a cool spring morning, tending to a bed of roses gleaming in the sunlight. There are birds chirping in the trees nearby as you inhale a whiff of the damp dirt beneath your feet. Don’t you feel better already? Gardening is a beloved hobby by people of all ages because it connects us to nature, something sorely lacking in our modern, tech-filled world. Being surrounded by flora and fauna, fresh air, and natural sunlight are basic things our bodies need to reconnect with the earth.
When you sit at a desk all day straining your eyes on a computer screen and locking your wrists in a single and unnatural forward position, your body takes a toll. If you are not shifting your position, going for short walks, or refocusing your eyes, you are sure to develop strains in your neck and eye muscles, as well as carpal tunnel syndrome in your wrists and hands. Freeing your body to work in the garden allows it to move in more natural ways, while your mind focuses on simple meditative tasks. Gardening is a relieving, sensory experience that is known to reduce stress, keep you nimble, and can even provide you with the moderate exercise you need. It is no wonder gardening can keep you fit and lift your spirits, even helping those who suffer from depression and anxiety.
When you are in your garden pruning or raking, there are no tasks due, no boss to report to, and no clients to handle. Your daily worries are temporarily forgotten as you focus on repetitive motions. Indulging in such an effortless task improves mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder.
A study conducted in Norway to record the effects of gardening placed people diagnosed with depression, persistent low mood, or bipolar II disorder in a special gardening program where they spent six hours a day growing flowers and vegetables for a period of three months. Upon the completion of the program, it was noted that half of the participants experienced a measurable improvement in their depressive symptoms. Three months later, their moods continued to improve.
Because of all the kneeling, lifting, bending (avoid this if you suffer from chronic back pain though), dragging, and general movement that your body undergoes while gardening, it is possible to reach the 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise you need each week. While other forms of exercise are dull, gardening is an activity to look forward to, which is a great motivational factor that ensures you get your exercise done. Like any physical activity, gardening lowers your body’s levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and introduces endorphins into your system. Elevated levels of cortisol not only affect your mood, they can also upset your immune function, memory, learning ability, and can even lead to heart disease. Exposure to the natural source of Vitamin D in the sky also helps reduce risk.
Believe it or not, the moderate outdoor exercise you get from gardening causes your body to release feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that interact with receptors in your brain to reduce your perception of pain. Try gardening for just half an hour a day and you will see a difference in your mood and dexterity.
As you can see, having a hobby is a fun way to relieve stress, anxiety, and even chronic pain. In addition to gardening, we offer chronic pain relief services in New Jersey. Book an appointment today.