The Benefits Of Gardening On Mental Health

I recently started a new journey and I’ve named it ‘sowing seeds for serotonin’. Gardening for mental health.

I have never been ashamed about the fact that I’ve struggled with my mental health my entire adult life. The difference is now that instead of depression owning me, we co exist. Over the years I’ve created my own toolkit to be able to respond to challenging times.

I’ve heard people say before ‘no one understands what depression is, unless they have had it’. Let it be known, I’m on your side and if you can take just one thing from my content, I hope it will be this. You deserve to find mental peace.

Is It Me Or Have You Always Wondered Why?

Are you like me, having spent years witnessing people gardening, not giving it a second thought as to what they were getting out of it?

I have always loved to look at colours in nature. Walking down the road, and spotting a beautifully manicured garden, has never escaped my notice. But in my earlier years, I really didn’t think about why people were spending time in the garden.

I’ve spent the past 27 years, witnessing the work and effort that my in-laws put into their garden. They potter around for hours. Nowhere to be, other than the garden, pruning, cutting grass, planting seeds, and creating their vision.

My family would plant the odd bulb, and my Mum had a small vegetable plot in the back garden, but not until I’d left home. I never really grow up in the very early stages of life, with anyone that would inspire me to garden. My Grandmother had a greenhouse, I remember. It was in a concreted garden, with nothing more than one or two plants in it at a time. She didn’t have green fingers, not really. She would maintain the larger front garden but didn’t really grow anything.

I’ve Lived in Flats Since Leaving Home

In over 2o years, I’ve only ever had one flat that had a garden big enough to do something with. But back then, I was in my early 20s and although I tried to do something with it, there was always something more entertaining to do. Since then, I’ve lived in flats and apartments and never tried to grow anything. House plants were my thing, and they still are.

Since Turning 40, A lot Has Changed

I now live in a detached bungalow with landing all around me, it’s a rural location and all you can see is rolling hills, views of the city ahead, and in the distance, sea. It’s truly beautiful and personally, I find it one of the most inspiring locations I’ve settled in.

Due to the size of the land, my partner and I wanted to do something with it. I always want to leave things in a better state than I found it. I thrive on the opportunity to give back to the Universe, make a difference, and play my part in improving the environment.

Now I Understand!

Since I’ve started planting seeds and starting our garden regeneration project, I now understand what the ‘gardening bug’ is all about. I’ve known for years that gardening has a positive impact on our mental health but just because it’s what I know, doesn’t mean that I had been a practicing gardener. Until now! I’ve always LOVED walking in nature, just being present in nature and embracing the lessons that it teaches us. But gardening, growing vegetables, is just so rewarding. I haven’t even got a harvest yet and I feel that way.

Research Has Proven That Gardening Improves Our Mental & Physical State.

Research funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has proven that there is a benefit to spending time in nature and the garden.

People that spend time in the garden, especially those who did during the lockdown, report better physical and mental levels, than those that don’t.

Living in greener neighbourhoods has also proven to have a positive impact. Those who can enjoy time in open green spaces, full of nature, are more likely to reap the rewards.

The research also proved that trees and hedges can purify the air around us. They take the pollutants, dilute them, and then divert them. This is one of the reasons that green plants within the home are so important. They clean the air, giving you the most beautiful oxygen to ingest daily.

Lockdown Had A Profound Impact On Gardening

Over the Covid-19 lockdown, the UK saw a 250% rise in seed and compost sales. We were all spending so much time in our own outdoor spaces, that we invested our time and funds into making them more rewarding.

Why Is Gardening So Good For Our Well-being?

  1. Gardening can improve self-esteem. If you enjoy projects or hobbies where you can see an outcome to your efforts, you feel good about yourself and the effort you have put in.
  2. It can make you feel calmer and more peaceful.
  3. Everything within the garden needs you to be present. You are in that very moment taking care of the task at hand, mindfully gardening.
  4. You are required to be patient. Something that I am having to learn more about as I plant vegetables. All good things come to those that wait.
  5. Research has proven that you feel less stressed when gardening.
  6. Reduces anxiety and depression.

My biggest advice is if you want to grow your own, just jump in and get started. There is so much that you can grow in pots, it’s eye-opening!

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