Written in collaboration with Sloane & Sons Garden Benches.
The simple answer to the question is: Yes! The team at Sloane & Sons Garden Benches want to share with you the many benefits of gardening for your mental wellbeing. Taking up this hobby could be all the maintenance your mind and body could ever need.
Access to sunlight
A simple reason gardening is an active combatant of stress is the Vitamin D that comes from sunlight. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder caused by a lack of sunlight. Therefore, access to the outdoors, having a reason to be in the fresh air, could offer you the benefits of this natural mood lifter.
A sense of connection
One of the severe effects of stress is a disconnection. This is a sense that you need to ground yourself in some way, to stop that feeling of being out of control. Not only can this disconnection increase anxiety levels, but it can also increase that feeling that you are isolated. Getting outdoors and working with the earth and with nature, in general, can give a sense of connection. There is the terrible pun about grounding yourself in the mud, but gardening is a smart way to bring you back down to earth from high-minded and busy overthinking.
A way of practising practical mindfulness
Mindfulness is not just a meditation tool. Part of mindfulness is using all your senses. If you are seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and tasting, then your brain cannot focus on your stresses. It distracts the mind and therefore quietens the noisy chatter. Have you ever met a stressed-out bird watcher on your travels? Their focus on the outside is a form of meditating and keeps them calmer. Gardening has the same impact.
Fulfilment from creating beauty
Human builders are creators. The dominance of art, music, drama, dance, media, and more, in our lives, is a testament to the need for a human to seek beauty. If you cannot draw, if you are tone deaf, then you could create your vision by planting a garden that will flourish throughout the year.
One of the strangest sensations of the new homeowner is that feeling of pride that comes from mowing the lawn for the first time. This is your land, and you have done something to manage its appearance; it makes you feel grown-up and as if you have achieved something. Stress is often a result of a lack of sense of control and gardening can promote a feeling that you have regained this in your life.
The harmful hormones that collect when we struggle with stress are from a past survival instinct. Our bodies are still designed for surviving on the Savannah against mighty predators. Therefore, when we feel threatened in life, our body provides us with chemicals that increase our strength, our speed and make us hyper-alert. If we do not burn off these hormones, cortisol and adrenalin, they can become toxic to our system. We become unreasonably angry, even aggressive. We cannot rest and are always on the move. We could struggle with insomnia.
Our body and mind need physical activity to help release these hormones naturally. Gardening is the perfect activity for resolving the excess of these chemicals. You will be heavy lifting, squatting, bending, digging, and more. Without realising you are getting a workout, you are exercising. There is also nothing more stress-relieving than slashing away at some tall weeds or hammering down on a garden post.
The exercise you do in the garden will also promote natural sleep. Those people who struggle with insomnia or need to take a sleep-aid before they can rest are more likely to suffer from a build-up of toxic stress.
Get Started Today
You don’t have to start big. You don’t want to add to the sense of rush in your life. You could buy a window box and plant some herbs. You could buy some patio pots and try some complementary planting. You might only have a small patch of lawn, but you could add a thin border and add some lavender for the smell of relaxation or maybe some rosemary to help your memory. It is essential to get started and to give yourself a place where you can sit and seek that haven of peace in your garden.