Posted 17th Apr 2018
It's predicted that within the past week alone, one in six people will have experienced symptoms which are linked to mental health problems, including anxiety and depression
Rising stress-levels, fuelled by today's "always-on" culture means the search is very much on for ways in which to improve our mental wellbeing.
There is a growing area of interest in 'horticultural therapy' - or, to put it more simply, gardening.
Now that spring is here, bringing with it more daylight hours and chances to enjoy horticultural healing, The Greenhouse People are explaining the five ways gardening can help to improve our mental wellbeing.
1 Be in the moment
Take some time out of your day to go amongst nature - it will be truly beneficial for both your physical and mental health. In fact, a recent study found hard evidence for exactly how gardening can help to alleviate and prevent some of the bigger health issues that face today's society, including depression and anxiety.
2 Get physical
Thinking of exercise will probably put many images in your mind, such as spin classes, weight-training or a competitive sport - it's likely that gardening will not feature on the list! However, it can be a great way to boost fitness, whilst also enjoying the fresh air of the great outdoors.
Exercise is hugely beneficial to mental health, increasing blood flow to the brain, elevating your mood and increasing attention span. On top of this, it also produces 'feel-good' hormones, which help to calm the mind and relax the body. Taking part in physical activity for only 20 minutes a day can help to banish negative feelings and keep you in good shape.
3 Grow your own
Producing your own fruit and veg gives you complete control over the growing process, while also saving you money and cutting the time you spend in supermarket aisles. Yet it can also have a positive effect on your mental wellbeing too. Taking the chance to re-connect with nature while harvesting your own fruit and veg will be a highly rewarding exercise, providing a sense of purpose and inspiring you to try greater things. It also means you can benefit from the intake of pesticide-free produce and the nutrient-packed goodness of freshly cut fruit and veg.
A good introduction will be tomatoes - start growing them on the kitchen window sill, before moving them outdoors and fully embracing the horticultural therapy benefits. If you are serious about becoming more self-sufficient, a greenhouse can increase your yield of beautifully fresh fruit and veg all year round.
4 Anger management
Everyone needs a release from time to time. If you feel anger or stress is building up, gardening could be the answer - simply get your shovel out and try your hand at some of the more heavy-handed tasks which include cutting, chopping, digging and hacking.
Destructiveness in the garden can be a good thing for both you and your plants, provided you use it productively to prevent overgrowth and keep weeds at bay.
Tasks to try include raking your outside space clear of leaves, heavy-duty digging during the Winter to lift denser soil to face the frost, and clearing up flower beds and borders during the Spring. No matter the time of year, there will always be a way to get physical in the garden.
5 Miracle mood lifters
Miracle mood lifters can be found in all corners of the garden. For example, contact with soil bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae will trigger the release of serotonin in the brain, so it will be worth occasionally ditching your gardening gloves.
A mere 10 minutes in the sun will also produce 10,000 international units of vitamin D, more than satisfying your daily quota and keeping you feeling happy. Even if it's cloudy, you'll benefit from outside exposure. Some experts have even said close proximity to vegetation helps to lower levels of depression, meaning there will be no better time to start getting horticultural therapy and seeing the difference it could have on your mental wellbeing.
Tips courtesy of The Greenhouse People