Research shows that spending time in the garden provides multiple important health benefits. Gardening can help with stress-relief, mental wellness, and mobility while also boosting your immune system.
A garden is a safe space, a sanctuary, an area to reflect, and a spot to learn. Gardens don’t always need to be traditional either. You can make an indoor garden, have a plot at a community garden, make a vertical garden, plant trees as part of an environmental initiative, or line up some pots on your window ledge. There are so many ways you can surround yourself with greenery, without having to have a huge plot of land. So, what are the major benefits of gardening for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities? The answer is: the same as neurotypical folks and sometimes a few more as well. Read on to find out more.
When you garden, you don’t just grow flowers, trees, herbs, and veggies; you grow self-esteem, ecosystems, communities, and a living, breathing entity to be proud of. For those who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, and for those who care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, tending to a garden can be extremely beneficial.
Working with your hands, watering, pulling weeds, and waiting for seeds to become seedlings and then plants can be awe-inspiring for many people. It can be a source of pride and a tool for building a fulfilled, independent life.
Getting your hands dirty can make you feel happier, and there are scientific reasons for that. There are huge studies that have discovered the magnificent power of dirt. These studies show that inhaling M. vaccae, a healthy bacteria that lives in soil, increases serotonin, also known as the happiness hormone, and reduces anxiety at the same time (bonus!).
According to health experts, spending just one hour doing light gardening is enough to significantly lower stress-induced cortisol levels. Right now, many people the world over are struggling with an extreme amount of stress and anxiety. Finding consistent ways to quell these emotions can be a bit of a challenge. Gardens are constantly changing and evolving, so they can provide stress reduction for most of the year. Doing a bit of gardening, especially in the afternoon, can also be a great way to get a good night’s sleep.
Gardening helps people get not just some physical exercise, but can lead to an entire full body’s worth of exercise! The range of movements that take place during gardening can help people who have mobility issues and those who have a restricted range of motion.
Using various gardening tools improves coordination and increases muscle strength. It’s kinda like the earthy version of swimming. It’s also a great alternative when going to a gym or practicing sports is harder to do. Just 30-45 minutes of gardening or even raking leaves a few times a week are also great ways to reduce and control blood pressure and protect heart health.
The Sunshine Vitamin
Many people are currently spending a considerable amount of time indoors. By doing a bit of gardening every day, you get to enjoy the sun, and you get to boost those vitamin D levels.
Also called the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is essential for immune system functionality. Vitamin D also helps the body absorb calcium, which is essential for many of the body’s functions. And, you’ve probably heard this, but Vitamin D is your friend when it comes to producing more happiness hormones.
We’re meant to be outside, and that doesn’t have to be in the garden. Parks, walking around the neighborhood, accessible hikes, and pretty much anything with a generous amount of sun will boost your sense of wellbeing. Just don’t forget the sunscreen.
Literally. You can’t get more grounded than actually digging in the ground (apart from meditation, but we’ll discuss that in a different post). Spending a couple of minutes or a couple of hours in the garden is a good opportunity to explore nature, learn, and discover new things. Watching things grow has the power to connect help us all connect with the earth beneath our feet.
So, there you have 5 compelling reasons to get outside and garden, or just get outside when you can! For more posts like this, click on any of the images at the bottom of this one.
About Stephen’s Place
If you have a loved one with developmental or intellectual disabilities, who is looking for a community to live in, please contact us for more information.
Stephen’s Place is a private-pay apartment community due to our state-of-the-art amenities and programs. We are a nonprofit and do not profit from our community. We are private pay because we spend more than some housing communities to ensure that our residents are comfortable and can safely live their lives with independence and dignity.