The NHS is planning on offering an 8 week gardening course for people who are stressed, depressed, anxious or of low mood. One newspaper reports that “each two hour session – covering subjects such as plant types, soil testing and common pests – is designed to boost morale.” The article goes on to say that “The ‘therapeutic’ course is expected to prove popular with people who are stressed at work or facing redundancy.”
This may not be as daft as it sounds. Researchers into the Science of Happiness have found that tending a growing plant can promote overall happiness. It has been said that ‘there is little more satisfying than getting your hands dirty and seeing things flourish and grow’.
Many experts believe that getting in touch with nature helps you put stress at a distance. Plants and animals have a rhythm and time clock which cannot be controlled by an iphone or hurry-up email.
How does gardening reduce stress?
- Sunlight – getting out in the sun can improve mood by increasing serotonin to the brain and also providing vitamin D.
- Fresh Air – increased oxygenation can improve brain function and provide a better night’s sleep.
- Exercise – digging, pruning, mowing, weeding and planting are good for using our muscles and releasing tension.
- Nurturing – caring for something other than ourselves puts our lives into perspective.
- Creating Beauty – provides time for contemplation and relaxation.
- Visible Progress – gardening allows you to see your plants growing and changing every day, the garden is rarely “stuck.”
- Sounds – the sounds of nature allow us to tune into the here & now and be fully present in the moment.
- Accomplishment – whilst gardening may be hard work, it produces rewards in the form of food and flowers, which can increase self esteem.
So find a little patch of dirt or a pot and get cultivating!