Many of us take time to nurture our gardens and care for plants to ensure they stay healthy through the year. We might not realise, but by weaving gardening into our lives, we are also nurturing our own mental health. If you’re feeling low, look to the garden to lift you and try some different ways to grow your happiness.
What are the mental health benefits of gardening?
Spending time in the garden is a great way to keep your mental health in check. Breathing fresh air does us all the world of good, especially when we are surrounded by plants. Studies have shown that simply being around trees and plants reduces stress, eases tension in muscles and lowers blood pressure. In the natural world, we can feel more grounded, accepted, and able to be our true selves.
Spending time in a garden can help our mental health in in many ways;
- Being around trees and plants can reduce stress and anxiety
- The natural world can give us a sense of belonging and equality
- Gardening as a hobby can give us a focus and allow us to set goals to look forward to
- Sharing gardening knowledge and experiences can help us connect with others
- Looking at colourful flowers can help to lift our mood
How you can garden your way to wellbeing
The good news is you don’t have to become a full-time gardening expert to reap the wellbeing benefits. We’ve come up with some really simple ways to take positive steps towards better mental health, based around a well-recognised framework and using just five simple steps.
The New Economics Foundation developed the 5 Ways to Wellbeing. Based on research, they found that if people incorporate the 5 Ways into their day to day lives, their wellbeing should improve.
Here’s some examples of how you can use gardens and nature to achieve the 5 Ways to Wellbeing;
1. Connect with others
Being social and feeling valued by other people is an essential human need and one that contributes to functioning well in the world. Social interactions are critical for promoting wellbeing and for acting as a buffer against poor mental health.
Allotments or community garden projects are a great way to meet other people. Get stuck into some gardening whilst having a chat – you’ll deserve a sit down with a brew and a biscuit once the hard work is done!
Gardens and green spaces are a great place to meet with friends and family. Whether it’s a summer barbeque with family or a quiet chat and a brew with a friend, we all feel better when we have had some social interaction.
- Head to your local park for a walk around the gardens or explore your nearest RHS Gardens
- Follow our Facebook and Instagram pages, we share plenty of gardening hints and tips and it’s a great place to be part of a gardening community to share experiences and photographs.
- If you have any questions about the plants you have bought from us, our Customer Care team would love to chat to you and give you our expert advice!
2. Be active
Regular physical activity is found to help with depression and anxiety across all age groups. Gardening not only helps your mental health, but also your physical. We’ve all been there, wondering why everything is aching after only ‘a bit of gardening’.
When it comes to burning calories, digging and shovelling come top of the list with mowing and weeding not far behind. Spend half an hour doing any of the following activities and expect to use up:
- Digging and shovelling: 250 calories
- Lawn mowing: 195 calories
- Weeding: 105 calories
- Raking: 100 calories
Focusing our mind on learning something new and setting goals can really improve our mental health. Learning through life enhances self-esteem and can help to lift people out of depression.
Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned gardener, there will always be something new to learn or a new plant to discover. Learning about plants and gardening techniques is a great way to improve your mental health, as well as your garden. You can find a host of educating and inspiring articles on our website to help you plant and grow hedges, shrubs and trees.
Gardens support a host of interesting creatures, from insects, birds and bats to hedgehogs, butterflies, moths and fungi. Try to identify the wildlife that visits your garden and read-up on their names, behaviour and how you could give them a helping hand.
- Have a go at identifying all the plants and trees in your garden or in the local park.
- Try to learn the Latin names for some plants as well as common names
- Read a gardening book
- Join a gardening club
- Try to recognise the bird species that visit your garden
If we feel valued and make a positive impact on other people or the world around us, we have a greater feeling of self-worth and motivation. If you are a gardening expert you could share your knowledge with neighbours or even offer to help them in their garden. Why not volunteer for a local hospice or nursing home to give them a hand with their gardens? By taking care of your garden and planting lots of hedges, trees and shrubs you can also help to give nature a home.
Other ways you can give by gardening:
- Bake a cake with fruit from your garden as a treat for friends and family
- Plant hedges to help local wildlife and contribute towards the fight against climate change.
- Cut some flowers or foliage from your garden and make a natural gift for a loved one to show you care
- Share your gardening knowledge with others
- Volunteer at community gardening projects
- Feed the birds in your garden and plant bee-friendly shrubs like lavender
5. Take Notice
Spending time in a garden can be a relaxing, mindful experience. Slowing down to listen to the birds, feel the wind on our face and smell the flowers, are great ways to focus on the moment and step away from our stressful thoughts and worries for a while.
Planning your garden design, making arrangements in borders and pots can also be a very therapeutic process and improve our wellbeing.
Spending some focused time noticing gardens, plants and nature is a great way to improve your mental health. Try these mindful gardening activities;
- Take a moment to notice how your garden changes through the seasons.
- What will change through the year and what are you looking forward to seeing this year?
- What birds have visited your garden recently and are there any nests being built?
- Photograph, sketch or paint your favourite section of the garden or local park
- Cut some flowers or foliage from your garden and take a moment to make an arrangement for your house
Take a look at our gardening tips and gardening wellbeing ideas to help you through those down days and watch yourself bloom!