Why Yard Work Is Good for Your Mental Health

5 Reasons to Spend More Time Grooming Your Yard

Front view of woman and small daughter working in vegetable garden on farm

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On the surface, yard work can appear nothing more than a chore. You’ve got to pull the weeds, mow the lawn, prune flowers, pluck fruit and veggies, and till the soil in the garden. But as tedious as it can be at times, doing yard work can actually have positive impacts on your overall well-being. Ahead, we’re outlining five reasons why spending time nurturing your garden and making your yard a beautiful space can be a true boon to your mental health.

1

Gives You Time to Yourself

Having some quality alone time throughout the week is important. Gardening and yard work allows you the space to step away from it all and sit with yourself.

“Yard work allows us time to not think and focus on the task at hand,” says psychotherapist Kathryn Smerling. “You don’t have to talk or worry about others for a bit, and can focus purely on you.”

Interestingly, spending time alone can also ramp up our creativity. A 2020 study published in Nature Communications found that when people were alone they experienced an increase in imagination. The idea is that reduced social stimulation allows the brain to hone in on creative energy.

2

Promotes Physical Activity

Moving our bodies is important, and yard work definitely qualifies as exercise. Whether you’re pushing a lawn mower across the grass, moving through your garden to keep it looking beautiful, or trimming bushes and trees, there’s no doubt you’ll get your steps in and increase your heart rate. 

Science tells us that exercise doesn’t just offer a quick “runner’s high,”. It can also help manage feelings of depression and anxiety over the long term. Of course, exercise is important for our physical health, as well. When we feel better physically this can help us feel better mentally.

3

Reduces Stress & Anxiety

Immersing ourselves in nature has numerous health benefits. For instance, we know that sunshine boosts our vitamin D levels. This vital nutrient plays a role in serotonin and calcium levels, which can help reduce feelings of stress and depression.

Research also tells us that spending time outside can reduce stress levels, improve our sleep quality, and minimize symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Even if you don't have access to a full yard, you can still reap the benefits of nature. A 2018 study found that indoor plants positively impact health by reducing stress and improving focus.

4

Yard Work Has Meditative Aspects

Though it’s not a traditional approach to meditation, doing yard work certainly has meditative aspects. 

“Being outside is a sensory experience. It allows you to focus on your breathing and the simple things in life,” notes Dr. Smerling. “It also gets us away from everyday triggers of stress, including work, screens, and anything that could be causing you anxiety.”

5

It’s Highly Rewarding

With yard work, the fruit of our efforts are quite clear (sometimes literally). Our hard work pays off via a flower bed filled with colorful blossoms and mozying bees, a bountiful herb or veggie garden ripe for the picking, and a private, beautifully kept respite where we can rest tired feet and enjoy the earth around us. 

“With gardening or other yard work, you can help things grow and see something you’re directly impacting,” says Dr. Smerling. “It can be very healing.” 

Generally speaking, creating and working toward goals has a positive effect on our mental well-being. Maintaining a beautiful yard is a goal in and of itself, and watching that goal come to life in front of us can feel very rewarding and empowering.

A Word From Verywell 

While it might seem strange to think of yard work as a method of fostering good mental health, this everyday task boasts many benefits. Cultivating a beautiful yard doesn’t just give you a pretty place to spend time—though that’s nice, too—but it also feeds our need for alone time, quiet meditation, and spending time with nature.

If you live in a city setting or don't have access to a yard, you can still reap the above benefits by working in a community garden, cultivating plants within your home. or offering to help a friend with their yard. Or you can simply take regular strolls through the nearest park or green space, which can promote many of the same mental health benefits as yard work.

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