Posted: 8th January 2018
It’s official. Gardening is good for you. How do I know? Well apart from a lifetime’s gardening (and you could say that gardeners are biased) there is significant evidence from organised research that gardening is one of the best, and most accessible, ‘green care’ therapies for supporting and improving mental health.
The breakthrough in this research is to show how green therapies can benefit anyone, it Is not just the case that people who like gardening anyway find it a good way to unwind. A 2016 report commissioned by Natural England concluded that ‘green care’ offers significant benefits to patients. These include a reduction in depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms and increased self-esteem and confidence, social contact and inclusion; as well as a sense of belonging and personal achievement.
One of the simplest ways to reduce stress and restore your ability to concentrate is to take a 10 minute break in a green environment. The best spots give a sense of ‘getting away’ from your desk, have somewhere comfortable to sit or stand and admire the scene and have changing interest as the seasons progress. So – take that cup of tea outside into your garden – or even settle down to look out of the window – and just look and wonder at the natural world.
The joy of using gardening to deliver wellbeing benefits is that it is so flexible, from the individual who enjoys gentle exercise, fresh air and sociable gardening conversation on their allotment to structured Social and Therapeutic Horticulture projects where qualified therapists support those with severe, long term mental health conditions. And there is an increasing range of organisations and projects in between including mental health charities with gardens at their centres and community gardens. Most would love to have more volunteers too.
And the end result of all that therapeutic gardening? A beautiful outside space, flowers for a vase and some of your five-a-day fruit and veg. However you look at it, gardens and gardening could be the simplest way for us all to support our wellbeing.