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Brain Fog Got You Down? How Getting Your Hands Dirty Can Sharpen Your Mind

Brain Fog Got You Down? How Getting Your Hands Dirty Can Sharpen Your Mind

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For many, physical labor isn’t their definition of a good time. Thanks to automated tools and machinery, tasks can be completed without ever needing to lift a finger.

But pressing a button can never replicate the satisfaction of manual work. Building, fixing, cleaning, and creating are what make us intrinsically human; they connect us to our surroundings and give us a sense of purpose and achievement.

In the US, gardening has shot up the ranks as a popular pastime. According to recent statistics, more than 77% of Americans engage in some form of gardening. Among this, 35% of U.S. households—or 42 million households in total—actively grow veggies, fruits, and other foods.

With so many of us participating in the joys of gardening, the consensus is clear: many of us love getting our hands dirty. The therapeutic benefits of gardening can’t be understated; it has brought a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction to millions of lives.

Here are some of the biggest benefits of working with your hands in the garden:

Reduces Stress

Gardening offers a moment of reprieve outside the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

In the garden, you wouldn’t have to worry about deadlines, bills, taxes, or the myriad other stressors that accompany modern living. Instead, all you’ll have to focus on is planting, watering, pruning, and fertilizing.

Gardening has a calming effect on the mind and body, alleviating tension and silencing disruptive thoughts. It’s a healthy way to release pent-up energy and constructively express yourself.

Boosts Mood

Spending time outdoors to tend to your garden exposes you to natural light, which has been scientifically proven to stave off feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress. It also gives you a boost of energy, which you can use to reconnect with simple pleasures.

Keeps You Active

Gardening is more than just planting and watering crops.

It involves digging holes, hauling bags of soil, pushing wheelbarrows, and harvesting fruits and vegetables. You’ll bend, stretch, lift, and sometimes even crawl to get to hard-to-reach areas.

All these activities keep your body active and fit.

Gardening is equivalent to other moderate to strenuous forms of exercise like walking and bicycling, according to certified nurse practitioner Clare Ross. It works all major muscle groups, including the neck, shoulders, back, arms, abdomen, legs, and buttocks.

Here’s an approximate amount of calories burned when doing basic gardening activities:

ActivityCalories Burned Per 30 minutes
Watering60 cal
Weeding180 cal
Digging and tilling200 cal
Trimming using manual tools180 cal
Mowing with a push mower200 cal
Raking150 cal
Planting160 cal

Makes You Feel Grounded

Many of my gardening friends compare gardening to meditating, and I share the same sentiment.

Gardening encourages mindfulness. The repetitive acts involved in the activity, such as watering, weeding, and pruning, can induce a sort of meditative state of mind.

Moreover, the sensory experience of gardening—the soil between your fingers, the fragrance of flowers, the sound of birds and insects—can bring a heightened sense of awareness to the present moment.

Improves Your Problem-Solving Skills

Gardening puts your problem-solving skills to the test. Building a raised garden bed, fixing an unresponsive sprinkler, and planning a layout all require critical thinking.

The practical application of problem-solving skills not only strengthens your cognitive flexibility but also improves your ability to tackle abstract challenges.

Final Thoughts

For many, gardening offers a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Digging, watering, and tending to plants can transport you to a state where worries and distractions fade away, and the only important thing is being present at the moment.

If you’re looking for a hobby that brings joy, fulfillment, and grand rewards, gardening should be at the top of your list.

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