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Image / Editorial

This is how gardening can help your mental health

by Geraldine Carton
08th May 2020

We may not be able to venture far from our homes, but we can still reap all the benefits of spending time in nature with even just a few pots. 

We’re living in a time where people are getting more stressed than ever before, and although the word “anxiety” can be thrown around somewhat flippantly, it’s a condition that is wreaking havoc on the young minds of today. Prescription drugs can be incredibly beneficial for people who need them, of course, but what can people do outside of the pharmaceutical realm to reduce their anxiety and lower their stress levels?

Well, apparently gardening is one option that’s bringing incredible benefits.

Why gardening

There’s lots of research to support the link between gardening and an increased sense of well-being. Gardening presents limitless opportunities to learn and develop skills, and the way it brings tangible results can really help to create a long-lasting sense of well-being.

Ask any green-fingered friends about their gardening practices and you’re bound to see their face light up. The joy and sense of satisfaction that comes with engaging with nature can be nothing short of therapeutic, as shown by the rise in health practitioners looking into using gardening as a mental health intervention.

As a therapeutic horticulturalist, Caitriona Kelly says “gardening takes you out of your head and into your hands where you can focus on the current task completely.” Acting as a gentle reminder that we are not the centre of the universe, gardening encourages us to take a step back and appreciate the world around us, noting the beauty of life in its most natural, uncomplicated form. Away from the stresses of social media and work deadlines and family pressures.

Is it for me?

And we’re not talking about tending to a range of exotic plants in a back garden the size of a local park either. Gardening can come in all forms, from the little pot of mint leaves at your kitchen window to a mini vegetable plot out your back door, and even a collection of succulents along your bedroom shelf (which need minimal attention, by the way) too.

So this weekend why not get yourself in on the gardening craze that’s taking hold amongst the young and old alike. Even if you’ve never cared for a plant before in your life, if you’re in need of a bit of a mental wind-down then it’s worth exploring this trend that is benefitting people who never knew they had a love for all things green, growing and bountiful.

Ways to start gardening:

  • Start with succulents

Succulents are incredibly easy to upkeep and can act as the perfect gateway point into the gardening world. They’re also incredibly on trend right now, have you noticed?

  • Create a vegetable patch with your family/ housemates

There are few things in life more wholesome and satisfying than the feeling of eating vegetables that you have grown yourself. Some vegetables are easier to grow than others (especially in Ireland) so start with the likes of beetroot, chard and shallots, and then take it away from there.

  • Invest in a polytunnel

If you have the space in your garden and want to go gung-ho with this gardening idea then polytunnels are a super option. They allow you to work outside in any weather, are surprisingly easy to construct, and the main appeal is that they allow you to grow vegetables which require higher temperatures than we’re used to here in Ireland (eg. peppers, chillies, tomatoes, sweetcorn, sweet potatoes, aubergines).

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