Alan Titchmarsh and Monty Don might not let you in on this â€“ espousing as they do the virtues of trimming your bushes and pruning your rhododendrons â€“ but gardening is good for things other than checking the moistness of your compost. Lesser known is the fact that gardening is also great for your mental and physical health.
So slip on your wellies, grab a grow bag, and let me guide you by the (garden-gloved) hand….
1) Stress Relief
The 21st century is a tough, demanding and unrelenting place, and much of peopleâ€™s mental health problems are exacerbated by their inability to cope in such a stressful world on a daily basis.
Gardening is the perfect antidote to that. Itâ€™s a leisurely pastime and is an activity that shouldnâ€™t be rushed. Gardening has been cited in several studies as being a more effective de-stresser and relaxant than many hobbies, which ironically people usually take up to relax.
Studies have also shown that gardening leads to a significant reduction in the stress hormone, cortisol.
2) Out In The Open
Thereâ€™s nothing more refreshing and bracing than the great outdoors. Of course, in the UK weâ€™re no strangers to an invigoratingly chilly wind and the occasional drop of rain either.Â In fact, being outside and engaged in outdoor activity has proven to be more effective than taking anti-depressants. This kind of eco-therapy is a significant and effective method of assisting people with mental health issues.
3) Sense Of Achievement
After all the potting, planting, digging, soiling, hard graft and toil, you can finally stand back and survey the view â€“ the result of all your back-busting efforts, the garden of your dreams.Â Many mental health problems stem from people feeling theyâ€™re powerless in what can seem an overwhelming world. When youâ€™ve achieved something youâ€™ve taken the reigns, taken control, and achieved an end result yourself.
4) Social Interaction And Structure
Thereâ€™s no better way to engage the brain and get the synapses fizzing than through the good, old fashioned method of social interaction â€“ talking to people, engaging, sharing ideas, and mixing with your fellow man.
And whether youâ€™re partaking in gardening activities as a group, or on your own, gardening creates a routine that imposes some kind of structure in your life, a few hours to dedicate yourself and your energies on a particular productive, creative and rewarding task.
5) Physical Benefits
Garden requires a reasonable amount of physical exertion, and youâ€™re working all the major muscle groups: legs, buttocks, arms, shoulders, neck, back and abdomen. Stretching, bending, weeding and digging also means that youâ€™re burning off a lot of calories. It increases bodily flexibility, strengthens joints, decreases blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lowers the risk of diabetes, and slows down the chance ofÂ osteoporosis.
6) Express Creativity And Identity
Gardening or creating a landscape space is a way in which you can fashion something which is either partly or entirely yours. Itâ€™s a way of giving you an identity and an extension through which you can express part of your personality and creativity.Â If you want to get metaphorical about it, gardening is literally a way of laying down your roots and watching them, and yourself, grow.
7) Flower Power
No, weâ€™re not going all going all 60s and hippy-ish, but there has long been a connection between mental and physical health and perennials. For example, seeing flowers can reduce anxiety levels and depression, and studies have shown that people who see flowers or plants in the morning have an increased level of energy throughout the day â€“ just the thing to get you kick-started!
8) Eat What You Grow
Not only is gardening great for your physical and mentalÂ well-beingÂ but when your hard work is done, the garden is finished, and any fruit and veg are grown â€“ you can eat them.Â What better way to get a few (or all) of your five a day than by eating whatÂ you’veÂ grown? Healthy, nutritious, organic. Tom and Barbara from The Good Life would have been proud!
So dedicating your days to a few hours of horticultural activities can make not only your garden â€“ but also your life â€“ smell like a bed of roses.
Can you think of any other mental and physical benefits of gardening?