Why should I start gardening?
A vast amount of research has gone into the effects gardening can have on mental and physical health. A report in the Mental Heath Journal found that gardening reduces stress and improves mood as well as reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Part of this is because of the physical difference that you make, and seeing (or tasting) the end product can give you a great sense of pride and achievement.
The following video from the Royal Horticultural Society explains some ways gardening can effect mental health:
How can I get into gardening?
From a young age I was in the garden getting my hands dirty, but no how much experience you have, it is easy for anyone to get involved. Maybe you have the space to start a vegetable patch or flower bed in your garden, or you might just have the space for an indoor herb garden. It’s really easy to make your garden a vibrant wildlife friendly space – here are some top tips from Countryfile on doing just this.
What about gardening as a student?
If you are a student living in halls you are probably thinking, “how am I supposed to start gardening without a garden?” Well… there are many different plants that can easily be planted and grown inside. One of the easiest is geraniums which are planted from bulbs and can provide a nice splash of colour to every room. Another student friendly plant is the snake plant which can be bought quite cheaply and only requires a small amount of watering. Snake plants purify air by absorbing toxins through the leaves – they produce pure oxygen, which makes them a great plant for the bedroom.
How can gardening improve my mental health?
Plants don’t judge:
For many people who suffer with anxiety, paranoia or depression, going into a social setting can be terrifying. Spending time in the garden doesn’t have the same feeling. No matter what stage your mental health is at, plants can be nurtured and cared for, without worrying about social interaction or what other people will think. Also, keeping plants healthy can provide a vital boost to self-esteem and confidence.
Gardening puts you back in control:
During university life, with assessments piling up and deadlines getting even closer, it is easy to feel like it is getting on top of you. While you may struggle to get your life fully in order, you can organise your vegetable patch, sow some new seeds or harvest the fruits of your labour. Gardening is a great way to bring an element of control back when everything gets too much, as you can do as little or as much as you like whenever you want to.
It encourages us to focus on the now:
Anxiety and other mental health conditions can be triggered by focusing heavily on the past or spending too much time worrying about the future. Growing fruits and vegetables particularly focuses on the now because if you don’t keep a careful watch on them and provide them the care they need, they will not successfully grow.