Grow a GARDEN, improve MOOD? (I’m in!)

For those of you who watch my Dr. Fred show on YouTube or follow me on Instagram, you know my affinity for gardening.

And for the first time in my adult life, I live in a place where I can actually grow my own food!

Of course, when I’m in my garden, I tend to feel very “Zen,” so I haven’t captured a video of it.

But that brings me to another great benefit of growing your own food…

Stress relief!

In fact, research shows that horticulture therapy MELTS AWAY stress and IMPROVES mood.

Get your hands dirty

Horticulture therapy is a fancy word for engaging in gardening and other plant-based activities facilitated by, well, a therapist.

(This has also been shown to help reduce apathy—lack of emotion or emotional suppression—and improve cognitive function in some people.)

In a new study, researchers gathered 40 participants devoid of any chronic conditions or plant and pollen allergies.  They assigned them to horticulture or art therapy sessions.

Participants engaged in hour-long sessions, twice a week, for four weeks total. Activities required a similar level of physical, cognitive, and social engagement.

Ultimately, researchers found both groups offered some health benefits. But the mood improvements associated with horticulture therapy were greater.

In fact, participants completed behavioral questionnaires both before and after the study. Those who gardened reported less feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression—and exhibited an overall greater mood, compared to the art therapy group.

Various ways to garden

Sadly, many people have nothing to do with plants these days (let alone eat them). But the same was not true for our ancestors.

Rest assured, we have a long history of relying on plants for shelter, protection, and food.

And as I’m always preaching: You are what you eat!

So, why not GROW that food you’re eating, too? You’ll improve your physical, emotional, and mental health!

In this study, participants were taught how to plant seeds and transplant and harvest edible crops, such as tomatoes, beans, and basil.

It doesn’t get much more basic than that! And if you act fast, you can still plant fall vegetables.

Now, there’s a lot you can do in the garden, whether or not the intent is for food.

Perhaps you enjoy planting trees and shrubs to add some curb appeal to your home… or simply want to rake leaves this fall. Well, I firmly believe any type of activity in the garden will confer similar health benefits.

In fact, I expand on this research—and share with you my very own fall gardening to-do list—in the current issue of my Logical Health Alternatives newsletter (“”Dirty” habit wards off depression, stress, cognitive decline, and more!?”). Not yet a subscriber? Click here to become one!

Until next time,
Dr. Fred

“Growing Evidence Gardening Cultivates Mental Health.” Medscape, 07/13/2022. (