Gardening: It may just be the best thing you can do for yourself.

Most people in today’s world garden for pleasure. Although in the past a vegetable garden would have been used to feed the family, nowadays it’s just as easy to head down to the grocery store for your supply of potatoes, tomatoes and green beans. Throughout the years, gardening has gone from an activity of necessity to a creative and satisfying hobby that allows you to get some sunshine, put your hands in the dirt, and end with a great finished product. Much more than simply a source of vegetables or flowers, a garden today is almost a spiritual experience. And it’s great for your health, too.

Studies have shown that those who grow their own vegetables consume more vegetables in their diets than those who rely on supermarket produce. The reasoning here is simple. When it comes to a tomato grown under a hot light and then shipped to a grocery store, versus a freshly grown, natural tomato that you tended with your own hands, which would be more satisfying? Which would you be more excited to introduce into your menu? It’s a fact that gardening opens the world of vegetables to many people as a pleasurable experience. After the first year, you may find yourself looking forward eagerly to growing season and anticipating the taste of those first fresh cucumbers.

The benefits of gardening are not all in the body, and they’re certainly not limited to vegetable gardens. Tending and cultivating a garden, whether it’s vegetables, flowers, herbs or anything else, provides an emotional release that allows people to relax in a unique way. The slight physical exertion required to tend a garden is just enough to get your blood flowing, and that in turn is shown to awaken your mind and calm nervous agitation. Those who garden also often spend hours alone, with time to think and rejuvenate while performing their tasks.

In fact, horticultural therapy is a form of emotional therapy based off of the ways in which gardening can improve, relax, and recharge the mind and soul. The chance to breathe some fresh air and communicate with nature is a connection to reality that can do the average frazzled person a world of good.

It doesn’t take much. In fact, it’s one of the most inexpensive hobbies there is. If you can, section off a small corner of your yard and start daydreaming about what you’d like to grow. If a true garden is impossible- for example, if you live in an apartment building or don’t have a yard, even growing flowers and herbs in pots on the balcony or windowsill will help. The peaceful connection with nature, and the satisfaction of watching something come to life beneath your hands, will do you a world of good.

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