The Health Benefits of Gardening
August 9th to 15th is National Allotments Week, and what better time to explore the benefits of gardening? From the natural benefits of spending time in green space to the powers of sunlight on mental health, read on to discover some of the rewards an outside space can bring.
No garden? No problem.
Firstly, if you don’t have your own garden, all is not lost. Many councils and local initiatives offer allotments or planting patches for a nominal fee. If you can’t find one that suits you and your budget, ask a friend or family member if you can rent a small patch of their garden for your flowers and produce.
Raise me up
Gardening is a naturally mindful activity, giving you physical space to allow your mind to flow freely. By focusing on being in the moment and the task at hand, you are creating positive feelings, which can help to elevate your mood.
As little as a few minutes in a green space can decrease feelings of stress and anxiety, and the physical exercise involved in gardening can considerably lower cortisol levels.
Watch it grow
Watching your seeds and plants thrive and grow is a wonderful feeling; a positive reinforcement for all the effort you put in. This can increase confidence in your abilities, raising your self-esteem and enhancing self-perception.
Good gardeners become good friends
If you opt for gardening in a community group or with family and friends, it’s a wonderful way of forging bonds with people who have a shared interest. This, in turn, increases mood by combatting isolation and strengthening social connections.
Get those vitamins
We all know the importance of getting enough vitamin D; studies show that a lack of this essential vitamin can lead to low mood as well as health issues. The best way of making sure you are topped up is to spend a few minutes each day in direct sunlight with your forearms, lower legs or hands uncovered and without sunscreen. Make sure that you slap on that sun lotion before your skin starts to turn red.
Gardening is a simple and effective way of improving your mental health, but if you are feeling overwhelmed by your feelings or are worried about your mental health, please speak to your GP or healthcare provider.