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Gardening for Mental Health is an Essential Ingredient

Gardening for mental health is an essential ingredient. The image shows two terracotta flower pot men sitting in an arbour.

 I believe Gardening for mental health is an essential ingredient, certainly for our own wellbeing. As you can see, I am not a psychologist, I am a gardener with more than thirty years experience.

Horticulture has been used as a therapy a long time. In fact, one of my first ever job interviews were for working in a nursery alongside people with learning difficulties. I often buy plants from Cherry Tree Nursery in Bournemouth, to support the magnificent work they do.

When we talk about mental health and what can bring benefits, gardening is certainly one area.

Peacock butterflies on a buddleia flower
Being in the moment with our natural surroundings lifts our wellbeing. Photo by Kseniya Budko. Source; Pexels

For those who are gardeners, we may have never considered how gardening contributes to our mental health and wellbeing. For a long time, I had taken this for granted without realising the benefits.

Could ‘Gardening for Mental Health’ Be the Secret Sauce to Happiness?

Surveys and research have concluded the more gardening you do the more your wellbeing increases. So then, we can firmly say gardening for mental health does have influence.

Science Direct conducted a survey, which I found very fascinating. For those who spend time in their garden on a daily basis, they are 26% more likely to be happier than those who gardened less often.

Likewise, those who consider themselves to be gardeners see themselves happier than people who see themselves as non-gardeners.

So why do people choose to garden and benefits you might experience?

"Think we Are Nurturing Our Gardens but It's our Gardens That Are Nurturing Us!"

Gardening for mental health is an essential ingredient. The image from Rhod's Farm Garden depicting pastel country style flower border provides a soothing and restful environment.
View of a section of the garden at Rhod's farm in Lyonshall, Herefordshire. Photo credit Val Corbett, Country Life.

Pleasure and Enjoyment

These emotions and feelings trigger our happy hormone dopamine which increases our levels of feeling happy.

In my experience I have found most people find gardening later in life, often when children have left the home or retirement has come calling.

Yet the simple pleasure and enjoyment of gardening begins when we are small children, fade when we enter our teenage years, flickers a little when we have small children of our own then disappear once again before re-emerging later in life.

The main reason gardeners work in their garden is to enjoy the pleasure and enjoyment, as a biproduct our metal health and wellbeing improves.

"Every Flower Must Grow Through the Dirt"

Fresh Air and Being Outdoors

Stop, pause and just be still in your garden for one minute. Seriously just do it be in the moment and refresh yourself. Gardening for mental health and wellbeing is not all about doing the activity.

Instead of being indoors just being in the garden can refresh our body from the daily barrage of technology, mobile phones and the daily stresses that come our way.

Starting with the wind blow across your skin, the warmth of the summer sun on your back or the rain on your face and even the freezing wind biting on a winter’s day.

As soon as nature touches our senses in this way, a moment later the feelings of gratitude and appreciation can raise our wellbeing. Momentarily being alive in the moment and allowing yourself to do this is a wonderful feeling.

There are people who might feel weird to be in the moment. It is just you, stopping and pausing!

We can find the happy hormone in the soil. A man with his hands in the soil firming in a young seedling.
Gardening for mental health and wellbeing could be as simple as just getting your hands in the dirt!

There is scientific evidence of a ‘Happy’ bacteria in the soil that can have a positive effect on our mood. Spending just a minute or two being still in the moment, can bring you back into a calming and restful state of mind. It may take a bit of practise. You may feel silly the first time you do this but I’m sure it will be worth it. I often did this when studying and I still do it now!

Go walk bare foot on the lawn, let your fingers run through the soil. Connecting to nature helps us physically and spiritually. Why not give it a go and not just once who knows you might feel re-energised and get it too!

Gardening For mental health

Gardening for mental health and wellbeing is important. In our fast, shifting world gardening can help to destress. When the feeling of being stressed out creeps up on you what are you going to do? With this in mind, nothing can be a better antidote than putting on your gardening clothes and heading into the garden.

As a consequence, releasing your stress through physical exercise and breaking free from those triggers, help to bring down your cortisol levels in the body. In this situation your stress levels lower and you move into a more relaxed state of mind.

Gardening for mental health and wellbeing is known to be beneficial. The image shows a group of gardeners working in a flower border cutting back foliage.
Physical exercise can be a great antidote and gardening for mental health is an easy way to do this. Photo Credit: Kristian Hickson-Booth

It is a well-known fact that physical exercise helps to reduce stress and lowers blood pressure. Even just sitting in your gardening after a stress full day certainly can help to bring you into a state of calmness and relaxation.

Just being out in your garden and absorbing the sun, triggers your body to create vitamin D. This Vitamin helps our bodies to absorb Calcium and calcium keeps our bones strong and supports our immune system.

"Gardening is good for our mental health as it offers physical exercise, which improves depression and anxiety, and also helps people find companionship and support"

There is never a better time than the present to live in the moment, recharge our batteries and begin gardening for mental health and wellbeing.

Happy gardening, Kristian

Have you subscribed yet? It’s the easiest way to delve deeper on this topic. The following articles in this series will be coming soon and I would hate for you to miss out on this!

  • The benefits of growing sensory plants – the five senses of touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight evoke positive experiences whether in the present or from the past.
  • Let’s get physical – the physical, nutritional, and mental benefits are not always at the top on gardeners list. They are merely the biproduct from the pleasure and enjoyment that comes from gardening. There’s no better way than to start than with gentle exercise by doing gardening.
  • Finding your personal expression and self identity – Yes do we really garden with our expression and self identity. Even though we may not consciously recognise this.
  • How The Appearance Factor drives us when gardening – in truth gardeners just love this activity, I’m sure one of my neighbours thrives on it! The beauty of this type of gardening results in mini wins every time you are out in your garden.

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