The older I get, the more I understand the healing qualities of nature and why gardening for mental health is so important. I know why my parents loved spending time pottering in the garden, why children love being outside and how nature can heal our souls.
You can find copious amounts of research online supporting the notion that gardening is good for our physical and mental health. During the lockdowns, we all experienced how good it was to get out, lifting our spirits after feeling stressed and bored whilst stuck indoors.
The garden is my happy place. I used to escape to my garden sanctuary while working in a corporate role. However, now I find myself in the garden seven days a week, and there is no place I would rather be!
I had never thought about how important gardening for mental health can be until a couple of years ago. Roll back to 2021, and I launched my first-ever Seed to Vase course. Over the course, I got to know the people who had signed up and their stories, and I was blown away! Throughout the course, their stories changed. Gardening accelerated their healing, helping them cope with grief, calm anxiety, and recharge their souls. As they built their cut flower patches, they were somehow rebuilding their lives too! They were all happier and had an abundance of blooms to brighten their day too! We made their stories into a book (more of which later!)
Over the last three years, I have become increasingly curious about the well-being benefits of gardening. Here are my seven top reasons to garden for your mental health.
When we have a growth mindset, we take on challenges and learn from them as opposed to a fixed mindset which often leads us not to bother as we assume we will fail. Gardening is a perfect opportunity for us to develop a growth mindset. Gardening is not perfect. We make mistakes, things don’t work out the way we hoped, and then there is the added complication of the weather! Gardening is the perfect way to expand our growth mindset. It allows us to view mistakes and mishaps as an opportunity, to try again, learn something new or try a different way.
Any activity that causes us to connect with the natural world provides a calming influence on us. That connection becomes more potent when we produce something from the earth, whether food, animals, or crops. Gardening also makes us highly aware of the elements and the seasons. It forces us to see the world’s natural beauty. The process is immensely grounding. Imagine how magical it is to watch the sunrise or capture the first frost. Gardening gives us something to nurture, which is incredibly important to our mental health. And it is so important to look after our earth – and growing cut flowers (not flying them in!) is one of the most sustainable ways to do that. Read more here
In modern life, tech has enabled us to control so much. We can see who is at our door when we are not even there, watch what we want when we want and have access to comms and people 24/7. Much of modern suffering comes from when we can’t control things. Gardening allows us to practise the art of acceptance which builds resilience and reduces stress. In the garden, nature is in control, not you. We can put in our absolute best effort, but that doesn’t always yield the best outcome, and I have had to learn that it’s okay. This has been so important in my gardening for mental health journey!
Planning, Preparation, Planting and Perfect! You can scrap perfect off the list. Things not being perfect is something I have had to learn to overcome. Perfect doesn’t exist in the garden. I spent hours, days, and weeks pulling out weeds to have the most idyllic-looking cut flower patch. It was a waste of time and effort. If the weeds are causing no harm, I now leave them be. Perfection costs time and money, so if it’s not hurting, don’t spend effort or pounds fixing it to be perfect. In the garden as in life, Pobody’s Nerfect!
Relationships are substantial healthy contributors to our mental well-being. I have met people who have inspired me. People who have educated me and inspired me to learn. People who have conquered adversity and who are determined to beat the odds. Through gardening, I have found a whole community of people who share the same interests as me and have formed lifelong friendships, which are so important for mental health.
Being mindful and present
Being present, undistracted, and focused. My garden is a sanctuary I can slip away into and get lost in my thoughts, daydreaming amongst the flowers. Mindfulness does not necessarily involve mediation. It’s a flow activity whereby you can get lost in the moment. Instead, you concentrate on what you are doing and breathe. Just half an hour a day in the garden is the perfect dose to remain calm and at ease with oneself.
Learning to let it GO
Gardening is a great stress reliever. Dig out the beds, pull the weeds or sweep up the leaves. There is something instantly calming about nature; nothing is better than the sun beaming down and having my hands in the dirt. I love hearing the bird song and watching the clouds float across the sky. I am also known to love the rain too!
Are you ready to start gardening for mental health? Maybe start with a cut flower patch in your garden? Why not sign up for my free resources to find out where to start.
To hear more about how a cut flower patch has approved and changed the lives of others, read Seed to Vase