Gardens and gardening, as you may or may not know, can make us feel better. With their beautiful flowers and lovely scents, almost anyone, anywhere can enjoy the gift mother nature gave us.
But have you considered it could help deal with mental health issues and improve wellbeing?
From anxiety to bereavement, from stress to injury – gardens have become a safe haven, with gardening becoming a much-needed step away from the stresses of life.
Did you know? Filling a bare front garden with just a few plants has the same stress-reducing effect that 8 mindfulness sessions have!
Researchers from the RHS and the universities of Sheffield, Westminster, and Virginia found that having a greener and more colourful front garden can make you feel happier, less stressed and closer to nature.
Before the experiment started, 24% of the residents had healthy cortisol patterns (also known as the ‘stress hormone’). Over the course of the year, after the planting, the number of residents having a healthy cortisol pattern increased to 53%!
Not only do plants help with our health and wellbeing, but garden plants also help mitigate against flooding, encourage biodiversity and reduce air pollution – they really are a gift from mother nature.
So why do gardens actually make us feel more relaxed and closer to nature?
Gardens attract birds and insects. Listening to the different bird songs around you can restore your mind. Simply go out into your garden, close your eyes, listen to the different birds around you, and lose yourself in the peaceful moment.
Gardens are full of colours, patterns, fragrances, sounds, textures and tastes – it’s a sensory playground! Colour has a very big effect on our emotions, and different colours can make us feel different ways. For example, red, orange and yellow can make us feel excited, whilst blue and green can make us feel calm.
Not only does a garden make us feel good, but the act of gardening can put us in a flow state of mind, also known as ‘being in the zone’. As you immerse yourself into weeding or watering, you distract yourself from the daily grind, almost like a little vacation for your mind.
Scents can unlock evocative memories, improve your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and can also reduce blood pressure. This is why lavender is used in many night-time products, and rosemary is thought to help with brainpower and improved memory.
As we’re nearing a year of being in and out of lockdown, many people across the country have relied on their garden’s natural healing power. Whether you have a 5mx5m allotment, a balcony, or a large garden, you can find solace.
Not only do gardens help with mental wellbeing, but they also give the opportunity to improve your physical health – especially when the gyms and swimming pools have closed!
You’ll be happy to know that 30 minutes of gardening burns the same calories as playing badminton, volleyball or practising yoga, so get those gardening gloves on and start your timer.
There have been a few studies researching the benefits of gardens and gardening, but one specific research was conducted by the University of Exeter and RHS who analysed data from almost 8,000 people between 2009 and 2016.
This research found that people who spend time in the garden are significantly more likely to have good health overall, including higher mental and physical wellbeing.
Here are some top tips for utilising the power of gardening to boost your mental health and wellbeing.
Growing your own plants and flowers feels very rewarding, even if you’re a novice or professional, watching them grow strong is a big accomplishment.
Following groups on social platforms can help make friends with likeminded people. And once lockdown is over, you can even join a community garden project.
Growing your skills and knowledge can be great for your mental health, and also very rewarding! Sign up for a gardening course, join a club, or if money is tight, there are lots of online blogs to help!
Grow your own
Trying to be more eco-friendly? Why not grow your own fruit and veg! It’s cheap, healthy, and is perfect for improving not only your mental health and wellbeing but is also important for maintaining a healthy weight.
With all of the benefits gardening has, GPs have started prescribing gardening for not only rehabilitation but also as a preventive mechanism. Around 20% of people visit their GPs for what is primarily a social issue, rather than a health problem.
The NHS Long Term Plan for England was published in January 2019 and is making social prescribing more widely available. Social prescribing is a way to help people connect to activities in their local communities, which includes gardening. It’s more than just some good advice or suggestions, it’s met with link workers who are employed to give people time.
About Blue Star
At Blue Star, our fully trained teams take pride in the installation, maintenance and garden management of communal gardens, specialising in prestigious retirement communities.
All of the developments we take care of have dedicated garden managers, who are always available to supervise staff. All of our drivers are trained or are training to RHS level 2 standard or equivalent and above, and we have also recently taken on an apprentice! All staff are employed directly by us, this gives you peace of mind that our team always work together to ensure we provide the best advice, service and care all year round. We can also give advice to gardening clubs and committees who already have a contract with us.
Blue Star also makes sure their staff are their top priority, we even have our own trainee psychotherapist. She is a great asset to the team, as she has also taught the dissertation for the Garden Design Degree that had a heavy emphasis on how we can design inclusive landscapes for restoration and wellbeing.
If you’re interested in finding more about how we can maintain and improve a communal garden, give our friendly team a call on 07703562081 and we’ll be happy to have a chat with you to see how we can improve the outdoor space you have.