We all have mental health. Like physical health, we are all on a spectrum of healthiness. Some people fall ill and suffer from the impacts of disorders. Some people feel the twinges of common mental fatigue and lowering resilience. Like with physical health it is essential to manage your mental health. You need to undertake activities that will actively lead to an increased sense of wellbeing. At Sloane and Sons Garden Benches, they believe there is nothing more successful than gardening in managing your mental health. Below, they explain why they have come to this conclusion.
There is power in those petals!
There is a gentle reminder provided when gardening that we are part of a wider world and that we are not at the centre of a complex universe. Many problems of mental health are a result of a loss of perspective, often without our realising, and the act of nurturing nature can reduce the size of our problems.
When you are provided with a corner of the planet to look after you suddenly have a purpose. You have something which you can control. This small sense of power can be enough to reduce the sense of loss that is the cause of most mental distress. We may not realise we are grieving, that we are dealing with something or someone that is missing. However, gardening can give back a small sense of control and reduce this upset.
We are also social creatures that are pre-programmed with the desire to nurture. Loneliness is such a massive influence on mental health. Therefore, horticulture can give an opportunity for us to demonstrate our care and our ability to transform.
Relax and breathe in this moment
We are all hounded by deadlines and expectations and the sense of failure and the worry that we will not be good enough. A plant doesn’t care if it is good enough or not, it just wants to grow. There is something wonderfully present about tending to the needs of a garden. You know that if you give the right balance of food, water and nurture, that the life in that garden will flourish. No one worries who is better, who is talking about the other, whether the behaviour of one is impacting on the happiness of another. There are fundamental rules of growing that cannot be challenged by emotions or politics. The garden is just what it is, and you need only work with the seasons to enjoy the fruits of your endeavours.
There is a rhythm in the garden that can bring a sense of calm. There is the opportunity to be mindful and present only in that moment, dismissing the competing pressures of busy thoughts. You are tending to your spirit when you work in the garden, and we do not do enough of this in our current busy lives.
It is not just a view of those who believe in the spirit, this belief in the garden. Scientists and medics are more than happy to endorse the alleviating effects of gardening. When we are in distress, we create an excess of cortisol, which is what causes our bodies to want to fight, or flee, or freeze. Cortisol kills off dopamine in the brain, which is the hormone that gives us a sense of positive wellbeing. When we undertake exercise, we burn up the cortisol and release endorphins, with the initial impact of the endorphin rush making us feel more alive. Also, it also burns off the cortisol, which preserves our output of cortisol. Being outside and exercising also promotes better sleep. One of the major triggers for mental disorders is a lack of replenishing sleep. Insomnia or broken sleep patterns can be the fuel needed to take stress and depression to levels that can become harmful. Therefore, getting out in the garden can lead to physical exhaustion that means we sleep well and then feel mentally renewed.
And if all else fails…
And if none of that works for your sense of mental distress, then gardening gives us something to hit with a hammer or stab with a fork, and we are still promoting positive life. When you have an urge to thump your boss on the nose, it might be more productive to take a scythe to those blackberry bushes at the back of the garden. One choice would get you the sack, the other would earn you some space.