Gardening and mental health.

Why do people garden?

Why do you garden?

๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐Ÿต๐Ÿต๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒท๐ŸŒท๐Ÿ’ฎ๐Ÿ’ฎ

For me gardening has always been appealing. When I was a little girl I loved looking at peoples beautiful gardens that come in all shapes and sizes with a whole variety of plants and trees, I loved going to see stately homes and old Victorian gardens and I loved helping my nana in the garden- I loved learning from her, learning what plants like to be placed where, about mixing colours throughout the garden, which flowers bloom in spring, summer or late autumn and how to maintain them. This passion grew as I got older, I learnt more about the biology of flowers, soil types, types of gardening, insects and last but most importantly of all pollinators.

The only garden I’ve ever had is the one in my parents house which is a council house with a lot of concrete, some grass for my dogs of a small long raised bed.

I did move into my own house a few years ago but I could only afford a house with a concrete yard, I tried to plant in pots but the lack of sunlight wouldn’t allow it- I lived behind a train track then and the trees blocked out all the sunlight. ๐Ÿ˜ค๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ˜“

I moved back home last April, I went through a really rough time, as soon I moved back home I felt defeated and got stuck in a rut, then this is when I rekindled my love of gardening. ๐Ÿฅฐ๐ŸŒฒ๐Ÿ’š๐ŸŒฑ๐ŸŒฟ

I cleared out parts of the garden that were overgrown, I kept the plants I had given my mum previously that are pollinator friendly and come up with a new plan to make it the most beneficial garden for both me and my parents and wildlife.

Gardening is helping me to cope emotionally, it is a way to express my creativity and to help the environment, especially pollinators which is my main passion.

How is gardening great for your mental health and wellbeing?

Studies have found that the mental health benefits of gardening are extensive.

Not only can regular gardening reduce mental health problems like depression and anxiety, but it can also reduce stress and combat high blood pressure, as well as improving overall physical fitness.

So what is it about pulling up weeds, pruning unruly shrubs and tending to seedlings that makes us feel so good?

A new study has revealed that 81% of British people believe gagardening has a better impact on mental health than hitting the gym- AO.com.

It has always seemed like common sense that being engaged in the natural world is good for us, but in fact there is a lot of research to back this up!

Scientifically, there is a lot of evidence that backs up the use of gardening for our mental, physical and social wellbeing.

Benefits of gardening includes:

  • Moving beyond perfectionism- gardening is really beneficial for those who have an issue with perfectionism. Gardening helps with perfectionism because it doesn’t matter how you visualise your garden and how perfect you want it to be you have to come to terms with the fact that it will never look perfect, it will never look exactly how you want it to look in your head. Plants will overgrow, plants will die, you will make gardening mistakes and there is beauty in how irregular and messy nature can be- you will notice that the neatest gardens do not attract the most wildlife- there is a reason for this!
  • Eating healthy- gardening can encourage you to eat healthy. It is easier than you think to grow some fruit and vegetables in your garden, it doesnt matter what size garden you have you can easily get a pop up greenhouse in the corner of your garden and grow some vegetables. If your a newbie to growing fruit and vegetables, start off by buying some berry bushes (blackcurrant, blackberry, elderberry, etc) and start of with some easy vegetables like chilli’s.
  • Connecting with others- gardening can be a great way to connect with others. Gardening is classed as a hobby which is always a great opportunity to connect with others for advice and to share your work whether it is using social media or with your neighbours. You can also get involved in your local allotment or greenspace, this is a great way to get to know your community and the people local to you and get much needed gardening advice and if your lucky some free saplings, seeds, fruit or vegetables and valuable friendships.
  • Sense of responsibility- for those who are struggling with their mental illnesses to even get out of bed and feel like they have lost their sense of purpose gardening is ideal. Being responsible for a garden or transforming a space is a great activity to give that individual a sense of purpose. They are responsible for the look of the garden, the plants in it and in return they get a finished visual outcome and plenty of wildlife visitors enjoying the garden with them.
  • Connection with nature, spiritual connection with mother earth-People have long been interested in the healing power of nature. Perhaps most famously, Henry David Thoreau spent two years secluded in the woods of Massachusetts while writing Walden, his classic meditation on life and nature. Even in 1845, Thoreau sensed that the forest, or any other outdoor setting, can quiet the mind and improve your health. More than a century and a half later, there is plenty of science on the healing power of nature to back him up. Ecopsychologyโ€”which explores the relationship between human beings and the natural worldโ€”is a growing field, and studies show that spending time in nature can reduce stress, improve overall feelings of wellbeing and happiness, raise your energy level and even increase your capacity for caring.
  • Quiet, plants don’t judge- plants like animals don’t judge, the garden is a completely safe, quiet and unjudgemental space and a peaceful haven to be in- it is your own haven, your own comfortable space.
  • Creativity/ therapeutic- in the garden you can really express your creativity, you can express your artistic skills, chose your favourite colours, your favourite flowers, your favourite scents, fill your garden with ornaments, anything you want- there really is something therapeutic about creating something with your own hands.
  • Encourages you to live in the moment/ be present- while gardening you do think about how it will all piece together but gardening actually teaches you to live in the moment. When you go in the garden you think about what needs doing at that particular time and helps you focus on the task at hand- this keeps you in the present moment.
  • Growth mindset/ being ok with making mistakes- similar to perfectionism gardening teaches you that its ok to make mistakes. You will make mistakes while gardebeing such as pulling up a sprout thinking it’s a weed, over or underwatering a plant, putting a plant in the wrong position- all mistake are ok and an opportunity to learn.
  • Good way to vent anger and frustration- there’s no better way to vent your frustration than going in the garden and cutting an overgrown plant or bush and pulling up some weeds.
  • Accomplishment/ creating something with your own hands- it is satisfying seeing that all your hard work has paid off. It is satisfying and makes you happy to see that all your hard work ha paid off, you can see how wonderful your garden has turned out and what makes it better is seeing willife enjoying it and even your neighbours, famiy and friends complimenting you on your good work.
  • Connection with wildlife/beneficial for wildlife– gardening gives you a great way of being connected with nature, planting pollinator friendly plants and flowers, seeing the butterflies and bees visit your garden, gardening a great way to watch the birds and encourage them into your garden by feeding them, and even better if you get mammal visitors like hedgehogs, badgers, and even better foxes- there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing rare visitors in your garden and knowing you are helping the wildlife around you.
  • Physical benefits- gardening can be good for yur physical health too, it can aid weight loss, strengthen muscles, help with your balance and flexibility, reduce bone loss, help blood circulation, improve your ccoordination, improve your strength and strengthen your immune system whilst getting some vimain d in your system.

Why I love gardening and how it helps me:

I am naturally a creative person and I love nature so gardening has always been an interest of mine and I spend a lot of time learning about it. I love asking others especially the older generation about their gardening habits and what they like to plant and how and then updating my knowledge with modern gardening practices; my garden knowledge is exclusively wildlife gardening and how to make any type of space beneficial for both humans and wildlife especially pollinators- it has given me lots of opportunities to broaden my knowleedge, I love learning.

All the plants I have chosen for my garden are pollinator friendly and especially encourage bees. I love choosing specific plants for their colours, how they grow and where I can place them in the garden, how they will interact and piece together with the rest of the garden, how they will affect the ecosystem of the garden, and how they will benefit the wildlife, I get really excited seeing new plants on sale, especially old world plants such as wildflowers, ferns etc. In my garden I have a cowslip, borage, poppies, bergamot, mint and other wildflowers and herbs.

I love taking the new plants out into the garden and planning where to put them- I am a very visual and methodlogical person and I like taking the time to think where is best the plant and where I want it to be.

I always garden without gloves because I love my hands being in the soil, it is very therapeutic and calming, it reminds me of such activities when you are little and you run your hands through sand when building a sand castle or when you dip your hands in a rock pool- it is such a simple action that brings so much happiness plus I personally believe (with being a spiritual person) that mother earth is a great healer and by touching the earth I am connecting with her and feel her healing.

I love touching the plants with my bare hands and planting them in the soil- it helps my mind remain calm, focused on the task in hand and helps me stay present in that moment and it makes me so happy to be helping my local wildlife and being around nature in general.

I love seeing how the plants grw, controlling exactly how i want them to grow, visualising how I want the garden to look and helping my family to enjoy it espcially in the nice weather and seeing all the wildlife come visit and benefiting from it too.

I feel like when I am gardening because I am caring for something else and focusing on the task at hand my brain just goes completely quiet, I enter a meditative state of mind where all my invasive and negative thoughts are pushed to the back of my mind and I am calm, grounded, in a place where I can wear what I want, be surrounded by calming noises, enjoy the sun and see my work in progress- what’s better than that?!

I have learnt not only about plants, soil and wildlife through gardening but I have learnt to not be such a perfectionist, that simple and creative tasks are perfect to quiet a racing mind, you can not control everything and this shouldn’t be scary- nature is uncontrollable, messy but beautiful and it is not ours to own or control, just to help, heal and enjoy.

Most of all it haS helped me stay connected with the natural world whilst I am learning to drive and am unable to get a job in the envirornamental sector at the moment, it is not only a hobby for me but can help me in my career.

Scientific studies on gardening and mental health:

Good gardening websites:

https://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/10-great-gardening-websites.html

https://www.independent.co.uk/property/gardening/the-best-gardening-websites-861791.html

http://www.thegardeningwebsite.co.uk/

https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/3347980/Gardening-websites-The-top-10.html

Thanks for reading.

Happy gardening. ๐ŸŒฑ๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒณ๐Ÿ’š

Faye xx

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