“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” A beautiful quote about optimism, life and gardening from actress Audrey Hepburn. An avid gardener herself, she knew there was way more to gardening than pruning a few roses and mowing stripes into a lawn.
Over the last few years there has been a growing body of research evidence showing that getting involved in some form of gardening, and/or spending time in nature, can do wonders for your mental health and emotional wellbeing. Gardening is said to soothe stress, reduce depressive symptoms, and provide relief for anxiety. Looking at swathes of green – in a park, woodlands, your own back garden if you have one – can make you feel calmer. Even looking at photos of nature can help you relax and de-stress.
So, whether you have acres of lawn, a tiny patch on an allotment, or a few potted plants in a window box, here are our green-fingered reflections on how gardening – and engaging with nature – can nurture your mental health.
- Nurturing a plant, bush or flower from a bud or bulb and seeing it blossom and bloom can give a rosy uplift to your self-esteem. You can see your efforts beautifully rewarded.
- Working in a garden can put you in flow. Otherwise known as being in ‘the zone’, this is the state of being so fully engaged in doing something, and so connected with the activity, that you don’t notice time passing. Being in flow is an effective strategy to help reduce anxiety.
- Being outdoors and in the sunlight boosts your vitamin D, your mood and your wellbeing. Science says that vitamin D can lower your blood pressure and enhance how you feel.
- Gardening takes you out of your head and into your body. Again, this is an excellent antidote to anxiety. Gardening is a three-dimensional activity that is the opposite of sitting at a desk being hunched over a laptop. Unplug and recharge. Change your environment and your posture, and a change in mood will inevitably follow.
- The act of doing a repetitive activity reduces stress levels. A study has shown that people who regularly do gardening as a stress reliever are far more relaxed and in a better mood than people who turn to reading to reduce their stress.
- A garden can bring meaning and purpose to your life. So often depressive symptoms can creep in when it feels as though life has no meaning. Caring for something living can give you a meaningful project and put a spring back in your step.
- Being in nature makes you more mindful and more patient. You can’t force a sunflower to bloom any sooner than it’s ready. A garden teaches you to trust the process.
If you feel you need one-to-one support in balancing your moods and nurturing your mental health, give our reception team a call on 020 8673 4545 and they will match you with a therapist who can help. You can also email us on [email protected]