How gardening can improve your mental health during the pandemic
How gardening can improve your mental health during the pandemic
At Henchman, we believe there’s nothing better than spending a few hours toddling about in the garden, pruning plants, tackling some leafy DIY projects and enjoying the fresh air. And let’s face it - these days, we have plenty of time on our hands!
But it turns out gardening can be more than just a pleasant pastime. On top of helping you stay active, gardening is also proven to have both mental health benefits too, something our friend Annabelle at Life at 27 is always trying to promote.
Annabelle explains how “approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience mental ill health each year,” and that “there is strong evidence highlighting the health benefits of gardening and ‘grow your own’ in particular, including improved confidence, communication, concentration and ultimately self-belief.”
So, in this article, we thought we’d explore this topic further, highlighting some of key benefits gardening has on mental health, and how it can help you to stay grounded and happier during these difficult times - and into the future.
Regular gardening promotes mindfulness
The practice of mindfulness has long been proven to help maintain good mental health. And since the pandemic started, doing things to stay purposefully mindful has become even more important for coping with the challenging times we’re currently living in.
How does gardening promote mindfulness?
You achieve mindfulness when you focus lightly on an activity that isn’t overly challenging. Things like drawing, meditating and exercising are common ways to achieve this.
However, garden activities such as pruning bushes, watering seedlings and tending to plantlings are all activities that require this light type of focus - making gardening a great way to achieve this peaceful mindfulness, too.
In fact, gardening can induce a sort of meditative trance - a “moving meditation”, if you will. That’s because it offers the perfect balance of peaceful activity that helps you stay present without becoming too stressed or over-focused.
And the benefits are really powerful. As a result of achieving this regular mindfulness, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed, stressed or ruminate about the more stressful things that are happening in your life.
Gardening helps you deepen relationships with your loved ones
Strong and healthy relationships are fundamental for good mental health. And while gardening by yourself has many health benefits, research also shows that spending time in the garden with a loved one can enhance your relationships with them, too. It can do this in a number of ways.
Gardening promotes screen-free connection
Firstly, gardening offers quality time with your loved ones without the presence of screens or technology. Time away from screens promotes real life conversation and connection - both of which are proven to help your mental health.
Since screens have become an even more common place since the pandemic started, many of us are dealing with screen fatigue, and the time we spend together is becoming less meaningful and connective. By carving out time to connect with your loved ones in the outdoors - without the presence of Netflix - you can help combat feelings overwhelm, while also achieving meaningful connection with the people in your life.
Gardening helps you create something special with your loved ones
Secondly, gardening with your loved ones can help you bond over creating something beautiful together.
Creation of any kind, such as drawing or writing poetry, is proven to heighten self-esteem and confidence. Gardening is also creative, and creating a beautiful flower display, vegetable patch or newly trimmed hedge with the help of a loved one, can help you achieve a joint sense of accomplishment that enhances your relationship and self esteem at the same time.
This means spending time in the garden together can help you cultivate more than just a beautiful outdoor space. You’ll also build a joint sense of purpose, enriching your connection with each other and improving your mental health. This story about “building a green network in the city” from the RHS demonstrates just that.
Gardening helps you connect with nature
Several studies show that spending time in nature helps promote good mental health. But this doesn’t mean you need to go hiking or camping in order to connect with the outdoors.
Simply spending time in the garden is a perfect way to connect with nature on a regular basis. By being outdoors and interacting with the ground and plants, you’re physically connecting with the earth, which is enough to help you tap into the healing benefits of nature.
The relationship between spending time in nature and mental health
So, what are the healing benefits of nature? The main benefits of spending time in nature are:
- Creating feelings of calmness and stillness
- Reducing feelings of anger, fear and anxiety
- Reducing physical and emotional signs of stress
In fact, just looking at images of nature can help you achieve some of these benefits! But, nothing beats the physical connection with the ground, the feeling of fresh air and the sounds and smells of the outdoors - so get in the garden!
Another added benefit of spending time in nature is how it can contribute to your physical wellbeing. Being in the garden can help reduce your blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension, as well as preventing the production of the stress hormone, cortisol.
Gardening promotes healthy eating
For many gardeners, growing fruit and vegetables is the most satisfying part of the gardening experience. After all, there’s nothing more gratifying than eating food that you’ve grown yourself!
And there’s a reason for that. Eating from the garden helps you feel truly connected to the food that you eat, helping you value each meal more than meals bought at the supermarket. These feelings of gratification, appreciation and pride all contribute higher self esteem and confidence, which go a long way in improving and maintaining good mental health.
Aside from that, eating from the garden also helps promote healthy eating, something that’s also proven to be fundamental to good mental health. Many studies over the years have shown that healthy eating can be an effective treatment for mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, especially diets that are high in fruit and vegetables.
Gardening with Henchman
So there you have it! Even though there were already so many reasons to get out and about in the garden, it’s also an easy and enjoyable way to maintain and improve your mental health. And don’t just take our word for it - this article from the RHS also highlights how gardening is good for your overall well being from a scientist’s point of view.
At Henchman, gardening is a way of life. That’s why we’ve spent years developing specialised products to keep gardeners safe and happy while spending sacred time in the garden. Head to our online shop and explore our collection of gardening ladders and accessories.