Gardening to Support Mental Wellness

Whether you are just starting or a seasoned-pro, there is a growing body of research that supports gardening as an activity to enhance mental wellness. As Dr. Seth Gillihan wrote in Psychology Today, the benefits of gardening can encompass many mental wellness elements such as practicing acceptance, nurturing growth mindset, relieving stress, and boosting physical activity.
The therapeutic benefits of horticulture are adaptable to fit a variety of lifestyles and resources. With container gardening and resources like community gardens, you don’t even need a yard! It is something anyone can do. Although some may find gardening intimidating, there are many resources to help you get started (or even teach the most seasoned gardeners some new tips or tricks!).
Grow Pittsburgh is one local resource that offers an online information hub and workshops. It also has resources to help access things like a tool-lending library, compost, soil, and other garden necessities. Within your local community, you may also find gardening groups that can be valuable sources of information and also serve as a way to connect with others. Local nurseries, garden centers, plant swaps, and even farmers markets can be a source to purchase a variety of plants to help get you started.
The Penn State Extension is another resource that expands to include floriculture, pest management, and other educational resources. (If you found an interesting bug and want to know what it is, they can help with that too!) There is even a home-gardening page and a number of workshops and webinars that are available.
However, if gardening isn’t your thing, getting outside or experiencing nature can still have benefits. The Pittsburgh region has many parks to offer, and there are many more parks and facilities that are only a short drive away! We are also very fortunate to have facilities like Phipp’s Conservatory where you can enjoy some fantastic gardens year-round… without any of the work!
This article was written and shared in the Student Affairs Sustainability Committee newsletter.