Gardening for Wellbeing
Microscopic bacteria in soil has been found by scientists to activate serotonin in the brain. This may be one of the reasons why spending time getting your hands’ dirty while out in the garden feels so good. The NHS outlined the ‘5 ways to wellbeing’, a helpful framework for breaking down what can support our mental health. Below, we’ll look at some of the ways gardening can help us meet each of these steps:
Connect – connecting to others when experiencing mental health difficulties can feel really difficult. Gardening as part of a group can be a gentle way to interact and connect. There is joy to be shared in the beauty of nature and when engaged in an activity, the conversation can flow more easily.
Ideas – attending a community allotment is a great way to meet new people and connect. Have a look at the directory of Brighton and Hove community gardens from Brighton and Hove Food Partnership: Volunteer in community gardens
Keep learning – with plants and gardens, there is limitless learning to be had. There are opportunities to learn walking down the street and attempting to identify the plants and weeds growing. We can learn from observing the growing habits of plants. Gardening can teach us valuable lessons about learning from our mistakes and experiments – take the quote “there are no mistakes in gardening, only experiments” for inspiration.
Ideas – Take a free course – Open Learn through the Open University has some great ones: Gardening – OpenLearn
Royal Botanic Garden Of Edinburgh also has a free course on Plant Defence: How Plants Fight Back
Download a Plant identification app to learn about the plants surrounding you – Picture This – plant identification app
Give – we give to our plants when we take care of them, we can share our gardens by creating wildlife areas, planting for pollinators throughout the seasons and leaving messy areas for bugs and insects. We can also share our knowledge and ideas with others.
Ideas – divide and share a plant with a friend or neighbour or share seeds. Create a wildlife area in your garden to give to the. Install a birdhouse or feeders.
Be active – gardening is an excellent way to stay active and a great low-intensity form of exercise. You don’t have to be double digging (in fact we recommend you don’t!), most garden jobs will have physical health benefits, from weeding to watering, planting to pruning!
Ideas – break down big jobs into manageable chunks and ensure that you’re varying the kinds of activity in the garden. After you may want to stretch your body to prevent aches and pains, try this video: Yoga For Gardeners
Take notice – gardening can be helpful in gain a sense of presence that may be hard to feel when dealing with stress, anxiety or mental health difficulties. We can gently bring our attention to the change of seasons, and there is always something new to notice.
Ideas – try some mindful weeding!, take time out to switch off and to sit in the garden (or any green space) to notice sights, sounds, smells around. You may want to take note of some of the things you notice.
We hope you have enjoyed these tips and can spend some time in gardens or green space this weekend. If you need support for your mental health, please see the link below.
Support for mental health – if you need support, Mind in Brighton and Hove has a list of local mental health services. You can also call or email their friendly and informative helpline for advice. Mind – local mental health services
More info about 5 ways to wellbeing
Soil and serotonin study – ‘How dirt makes you happy’
If you would like any further tips and advice then give us a call and we’ll be happy to chat and support, from pruning and tidying to creating planting plans and transformational design features