Gardening and also houseplants are good for the soul

Have you ever wondered why older and often lonely people enjoy gardening so much, even when it is really physically demanding for them? Researchers have long since found the answer: Gardening is good for body and soul. Gardening stimulates creativity and helps with relaxation. It stimulates sensory perception, increases the ability to concentrate, helps to reduce stress and frustration and contributes significantly to improving one's attitude to life. In the meantime, there are even forms of therapy with gardening to support the soul in its recovery. And the good news: you don't need your own garden, indoor plants will do.

February 2022
Quicktranslation with DeepL
German read at nationalgrographics

No sooner do you think that one demanding time might finally be dripping away slowly than the next rough club comes along. Everyday life is difficult for many of us these days because of the nearby war. As is often the case, the advice is to go outside a lot and "bathe in the forest". Trees release phytocides (antimicrobial compounds) that stimulate the immune system and reduce inflammation. But not everyone has a forest on their doorstep or their own garden. However, there is urban gardening! And recreation can also be found in the park or on the balcony and in the care and cultivation of houseplants. That is the good news!

An article in the German-language edition of National Georgraphics (2021) refers to studies that testify that garden owners are more satisfied than people without their own garden. This is especially true in times of lockdown. Working with plants simply makes us happy(er). People without a green oasis unfortunately have to become more active, but anything is possible and worth the effort! In addition to the positive effects mentioned at the beginning, National Geographics also lists these: "Active outdoor exercise supports the cardiovascular system, reduces heart rate, calms the pulse and balances blood pressure. The repetitive movement patterns of various kinds strengthen the entire musculoskeletal system, the respiratory volume increases by about 50 percent, and the metabolism gets going. Lower cholesterol levels, better concentration and calmer sleep are also attributed to regular outdoor gardening."

In times of crisis, we increasingly turn to these activities. People react to stress in two ways: flight or fight. The garden can offer both: "You can let off steam, dig, sweat and give your body the feeling that it can do something. Those who tend to flee seek out a safe environment in the garden and thus give their body what it needs."

Self-efficacy. It is the case that nature does something to our health and self-perception, whereas depriving ourselves of nature can make us ill. If I put work into growing a plant or tending my garden, I will be rewarded in the end. Be it through a flowering pussy willow bush or the harvest of fully ripe strawberries (also possible on the balcony). This also serves my very own need for self-efficacy and self-worth: I can create, shape and harvest - also as a counterbalance to frustrating job experiences. If I don't have my own garden, there is the possibility of urban gardening in the cities. There you also meet like-minded people and can escape the feeling of loneliness. Social gardening serves social well-being even more than food, says the article cited. Whereby one's own harvest is already a very special celebration, often on a daily basis. If you are interested in urban gardening, you will find numerous possibilities on the internet.

Houseplants too make us happy. What about the corresponding feelings of happiness if you have neither a garden nor a green balcony? Well, everything seems to indicate that the mere view of houseplants helps to strengthen concentration, for example. The view of a natural scene - even if it is apparently so small - can even ensure a lower level of pain after operations. Self-efficacy also applies, of course, when I take care of philodendrons, aloe vera or Christmas catus, keep them healthy, enjoy cuttings and flowers or exchange them with others. This is where the positive social effect comes into play again. I, for example, have furnished our beautiful sunny office with diverest flower pots and am happy about the thank-yous from my colleagues. And they ask if I can grow a few plants for them too. You're most welcome! ☀️ 🪴