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Growing for Wellbeing



Earlier this month was Growing for Wellbeing Week, which is a celebration of the power of growing your own, and the positive impact it can have on your mental health.

 

It has been widely observed that gardening has many health benefits, both physical and mental. It is fantastically good for keeping you active and mobile without being too high impact – in fact, research[1] has shown that you can burn a similar number of calories during 30 minutes of gardening as playing badminton or volleyball. In addition, growing your own fruit and veg can help you eat more healthily (as well as saving money and reducing plastic!)

 

Arguably, the effect that gardening can have on wellbeing is even more profound. There are multiple benefits for mental health that putting your hands in the soil can bring:

 

  • Spending time outdoors can reduce feelings of depression, anxiety and stress, and provide space for calm and reflection. Being close to green space has been shown to lessen instances of numerous illnesses, and a stronger connection to nature is known to have a restorative effect

  • Growing plants creates a real sense of reward and accomplishment, boosting your self-esteem and confidence and providing a daily purpose and motivation. It can also be a great source of focus and concentration, helping to distract you from the stresses of life

  • By its very nature, gardening can be unpredictable and things don’t always grow in the way you’d hoped. This helps build resilience and a sense of perspective that can be useful tools in managing mental health in other areas of life

  • If you garden at an allotment or community garden, there can be a big social benefit too, helping to connect with others and reduce loneliness and isolation. Or you can spread the benefits of gardening by sharing plant cuttings or surplus veg with your neighbours!

  • Even if you are an experienced gardener, you continue to learn new skills and keep your mind active. Indeed, it has been shown to reduce cognitive decline in older people, and help maintain independence for longer

  • Gardening is good for the planet – planting flowers helps sustain bees and butterflies, and gardens are a wonderful habitat for a variety of wildlife. Doing something good for nature makes us feel good too!

 

The great news is that these benefits apply even if you only have a small balcony or some pots. If you really don’t have the ability to garden at home, try volunteering with a local gardening group or community garden - they will welcome another pair of hands, and you get to give something back to your local area too. It also doesn’t matter whether you are an expert or a complete novice, you will still feel the positive impact of being close to nature, nurturing plants and having space to breathe.

 

So now that summer is here, get outdoors and try your hand at growing some seeds. Not only might you learn something new, but you’ll have the opportunity to create your own green space of calm and joy that gives your wellbeing a little lift!

 

 

Photo by Sandie Clarke on Unsplash


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