5 reasons why gardening is good for your mental health
There is a growing body of scientific evidence to demonstrate that gardening, plants, and the outdoors all help contribute to a healthy mindset.
Karen Piper, the resident Horticultural Therapist for UK-based charity, Freedom From Torture, sees, feels and hears exactly how this type of therapy is having a positive impact on others. From her own experience, these are Karen’s top 5 reasons why gardening is so therapeutic.
1. THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT THE COLOUR GREEN
A symbol of growth, hope and renewal. Stepping into a garden or natural space can quickly enable us to notice that change might be possible; that we can feel psychologically different as our whole bodies respond to the perfect conditions for restoration.
2. MOVING THE BODY IS EXERCISING THE MIND TOO
When we move the body to the garden, we automatically make gains for our physical health, but this does not stop with arms or legs. We increase blood flow to our whole nervous system including the brain, changing the chemistry, shifting, and consequently lifting, mood.
3. A SENSE OF ACHIEVEMENT
To participate in an activity that is meaningful, due to clearly visible outcomes such as beautiful flowers or delicious vegetables and fruit can give us powerful surges of good feelings that have the potential to last for days, especially if we can continue to see or taste our efforts!
4. MINDFUL MOWING
Each gardening activity requires our attention, whether it is sowing tiny seeds, pruning a rose, or mowing a lawn. We need to bring an amount of focus to the experience, and this very act of mindfulness works to calm us, tune us into something other than our worries, and develop our skills of concentration – all good stuff for our mental health.
5. ALWAYS BETTER TOGETHER
Whilst solitary gardening certainly has its benefits, joining together with others to work on a gardening activity is a powerful tonic, especially if we are feeling lonely and isolated. Not only do we get that sense of achievement again, but we have an opportunity to engage, laugh, and learn with others. A shared positive experience is an immediate interest in our well-being accounts!
Karen will be at Freedom From Torture’s popup botanical shop, discussing how plants can change your life on Friday 26 th August at 6:30pm. Address: 72 Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3AY. The popup shop-meets-workshop will run from 24 – 29 th August.
Karen Piper is a Horticultural Therapist. Having completed her training with the Royal Horticultural Society and having practised as a Counselling Psychologist for over 15 years, Karen wanted to bring her two passions together to provide a space in which people who were painfully hurting could access nature as a pathway to healing. Karen grew up on a farm with parents who were avid gardeners, so an innate desire to be spending time outdoors, engaging with the earth, plants, and wildlife, has been increasingly influential in her therapeutic work. For Karen, tending to a garden with others has become one of the most pleasurable and meaningful experiences of being human.