If someone told you a few years ago to enjoy gardening, there's a good chance this remark was met with a condescending smile as it was deemed to be a rather boring passtime.
Not so anymore as especially growing your own food has become quite popular and rightly so. There is something magical about seeing a seed grow out to a vegetable, fruit or herb you can actually eat. But there is more to it.
The act of simply being at work in the garden and putting your hands in the soil, has an calming effect. The level of stress hormone cortisol drops sharper with gardening than with yoga or reading a book.
In experiments with depressed people of which half spent six hours a week gardening (growing flowers and vegetables) for three months, most felt a lot better than before up to several months after the experiment was finished.
While digging in the dirt isn't the same as taking antidepressants, it may have a similar effect. It is even hypothesized that a soil-based organism called Mycobacterium vaccae could be directly responsible. When injected in mice, it appeared to raise the amount of serotonin.
Apart from feeling better just from spending time outside, gardening also is great physical exercise for whom is not actively engaged in sports. While not as intensive, the frequency and duration of gardening makes up for it.
People are more likely to give up exercise, especially when they have pain or disabilities, but yet, keep gardening as they find it more enjoyable and more purposeful.
But wait, there are even more benefits to gardening: people who grow their own food are more likely to eat healthy, and the same holds true for children that will want to eat the food they grow themselves but refuse to eat otherwise.
It will also make you bond more with your (grand)children. Or, when you have a communal garden, bond with your neighbours.