Gardening For Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 & Beyond
Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week. And at Abingdon’s Complete Garden Services, we are great champions of the restorative effects that gardening can have on a person’s health and well being. As it is something we do every day, either in the course of our garden maintenance services or landscaping projects, we know first hand how tending to plants, being out in nature and seeing a plant that you’ve grown come to life makes you feel and the positive effects it has.
For that reason, in this blog, we are going to explore why gardening is so good for your health and well being. We’ll also give you some ideas on how you can get involved yourself. The beauty of gardening is that it is accessible for everyone. Regardless of age, gender, financial status, disability or any other circumstances, gardening can be enjoyed (even if a few tweaks are needed along the way to do so).
Why is gardening good for mental health?
Stress and anxiety are conditions that affect us all in varying degrees. The cut and thrust of our busy lives means we can often feel overwhelmed and bombarded with information day-in, day out. And the effects of this don’t stay confined to our minds. Stress can lead to very real physical problems, too such as high blood pressure, depression and muscle tension.
Because of this, finding ways to reduce our stress levels and find peace where possible is incredibly important. And gardening has the magical capacity to do just that. In recent years, more than a few studies have been conducted into the effects of gardening on a person’s mental health, and the results are astonishing. In many cases, studies have found that people who use their gardens report fewer incidents of stress and much anecdotal evidence points to the fact that gardening has a positive impact on our mental health and overall stress levels.
Even just being outdoors and in a green space has a positive effect, especially when combined with the sights and sounds of nature. As well as this, the act of tending to plants or carrying out tasks in a garden can boost confidence and self-esteem, as well as give you a sense of achievement as you see them come to life before your eyes.
Gardening For Better Mental Health
While gardening is by no means a cure for mental health problems, it is definitely a great way to manage and promote better mental health. And it doesn’t matter how big or small your garden is, there are still things you can do to get green fingered and enjoy the process of creating something from nothing.
Here are a few things to try to get started.
Before you even get down and dirty in your garden, just take a moment to appreciate it. Whether you do so from your doorstep, on a balcony or with a cup of tea on your garden furniture, take five minutes to soak in all the sights, sounds and smells outside.
Doing this is a great way of practising mindfulness and connecting with your surroundings. Plus, it’s very accessible. Simply sit or stand and take note. Can you hear the birds chirping or the wind blowing through the tree? Can you smell the freshly cut grass from your neighbours lawn? Notice these things and see how relaxed you feel in this small act.
Try Your Hand
Some people are intimidated by gardening. But you don’t have to go all in and create a garden of Chelsea Flower Show quality to enjoy it. It simply comes down to just giving it a try. If you have some planters lying around gathering dust, dig them out and give them a wash. Then fill them with soil and plant a few seeds. Then, enjoy the process of tending to them and watching them come to life.
And if it doesn’t work? Just try again. Lots of people think gardening has to be back breaking work too, but that’s not true either. With small containers you can enjoy planting from your kitchen table if you like and still reap the benefits it brings.
Do One Thing
Mental health difficulties can often leave us feeling paralysed by the feelings they bring, or demotivated. And if your garden hasn’t been tended to in a while, finding the strength to jump in and get it done might be a little too much.
But if you want to try out gardening for better mental health, start small. Pick a small section in your garden or formulate a plan for a small project. This doesn’t have to be anything as big as digging out borders or weeding. It can be simply planting a few containers, washing your planters or watering plants you do have.
And remember, if it feels like too much then ask for help. Here at Abingdon’s we offer garden maintenance services that can help you get on top of your garden and assist you in engaging with the activities you do want to do. We can even give help and advice in relation to planting and making the most out of your garden should you need it!
Be Kind To Yourself
Finally, be kind to yourself. This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is being kind. One thing we have noticed during these difficult times is that we are all a little kinder too each other, but often we can put ourselves under intense amounts of pressure.
Gardening is meant to be a tonic to this. A way to let go of day to day stresses and strains and just enjoy the process. Yes, it is a wonderful feeling when a plant that is lovingly tended to flourishes, but the best part is caring for it and being engaged in a meaningful, peaceful activity.
So, be kind to yourself. Start small if you have to and remember there is no pressure to get it right. All that matters is you enjoy yourself and you walk away from it feeling a little brighter, and a little more positive.