5 Ways Gardening is Good for Your Mental Health

As I’m sitting down to write this post, a hot coffee by my side and Winnie in my lap, I feel extremely thankful. A lot of us has been given the gift of more free time right now, and despite all of the bad happening in the world right now, we have so many reasons to feel grateful. I’ve been taking advantage of the extra free time to clean and organize my house, cook healthy dinners, bake banana bread, and do things that make me feel both joyful and calm. Last week I planted a small herb garden on my screened-in-porch, and it has become a very therapeutic process in tending to my little herbs. Research has shown time and time again that gardening has a positive effect on our mental health (something we all need right now!)… so I’d love to dig in to those benefits a little deeper.

P.S. You don’t have to start an herb garden like mine, there are TONS of options out there! You could start small with a small indoor herb garden to keep on your kitchen countertop, a vertical planter for flowers, or even hanging planters! If you’re going to be planting outside (whether in pots or a flower bed), you’ll need a set of garden tools and a hat that offers sun protection. No matter what you choose, you’ll be one step closer to feeling a little more joy and a lot less stress.

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Now, the top five reasons that gardening is good for your mental health!

1. Gardening gives you a sense of responsibility

Having a living thing to care for gives us a sense of responsibility – if you don’t water or prune our plants and herbs, guess what? They die! This responsibility makes us feel “needed” and can give us a sense of purpose.

2. Keeps you connected to other living things

A lot of us may feel lonely and isolated right now, but gardening keeps us connected to living things (even if they can’t talk back!). Just being in nature reminds us that we are not the center of the universe, and there is life all around us that continues to go on like normal.

3. Releases happy hormones

Studies have shown gardening can lower anxiety and depression by boosting our “happy hormones,” serotonin and dopamine. Getting your hands dirty may be the key – when your hands come in contact with a specific soil bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, it triggers the release of serotonin in your brain. And gardening is a double whammy since you’re out in the sun, and sunlight can increase the brain’s release of serotonin as well!

4. Reminds you to live in the present

Instead of worrying about bills, work, or our loved ones, gardening forces us to focus on the task at hand – whether that’s watering, repotting, or weeding. Concentrating on a physical task allows our minds to take a break and be more aware of our senses, and being in nature reminds us to listen, touch, see and smell.

5. Helps you feel in control

Everything happening in the world right now is out of our control, which REALLY kicks up my anxious thoughts – I am one of those people that always likes to feel in control! Planting a garden is something small that you can be totally in control of. You control every aspect of your garden: what you choose to grow, where you plant it, what it looks like, how often you water it, etc. It’s a very comforting feeling to feel like you at least have control over one area in your life!

Like I said, you can start really small. I ordered an organic herb garden kit off of Amazon (similar to this one) and it does not take up much space at all. If I wanted to keep all five little pots on my kitchen counter, I totally could! I also love that one day, we’ll have fresh basil, cilantro, and rosemary to snip for our dinner recipes.

If you’re thinking of starting a garden, I hope you go ahead and go for it! xoxo

Leave a Comment


  1. Love the vertical hanging planter! I got my herbs and veggies transferred outside a few weeks ago and they’ve been thriving off all the rain we’ve been getting lately.

    Kaitlyn @ Oh, the Places We’ll Go!

  2. So cute! I’ve been wanting to start a garden for so long. I think you have motivated me to do it now 🙂

  3. Annika

    I bought the Spade to Fork kit a few weeks ago when you posted on your insta, and my thyme just sprouted! Thank you for highlighting Spade to Fork – they are a local business here in Oregon and I love to see them highlighted!

    • Emily

      I did the same thing! My thyme sprouted at the end of last week, then the cilantro and parsley! I’m really hoping the basil sprouts soon as that’s the one I am most excited about!

      Thanks again for recommending it, Caitlin! I do not have a green thumb but the kit made it so easy and it was fun putting together!

  4. Kelly

    I could not agree more – fresh air really is key!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

  5. I LOVE my plants! They definitely put me in a better mood when I see them doing well! I also named my ferns Ben & Andy (from How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days), which makes them feel like my little babies LOL


  6. Laura Leigh

    Yes yes yes to this! We have been working hard on our front yard and it has been so therapeutic and distracting. I have loved it! Plus the fresh cut hydrangeas in our home bring me so much happiness. Especially since they’re from our own yard now!

    xo Laura Leigh

  7. Katie Shaps

    This is such a perfect idea for so many reasons. My moms birthday is coming up next week and she’s so stir crazy stuck at home, so I Just bought her a few herb garden kits this year! I think she’ll be thrilled since she’s usually not home long enough to maintain a garden!! Plus, it really is so amazing to see your time go to something productive and over time she’ll have home grown herbs to be proud of. Thank you for the amazing idea!

  8. Girl – my man & I have started gardening too! I absolutely love it! I water the plants after yoga and can’t tell if I’ve aged 80 years or am living my best life haha. Love this post!

  9. Love this!!! I have so many memories coming back to me of my mom and I gardening growing up as I read through this post!! It is one thing that I truly miss… I would love to do again! We have a rental so an outdoor garden is not really an option right now.. Love the idea of the small indoor herb garden! Fresh herbs are The Best!!! 🌱🌿