Gardens, Wellbeing & WhyAlison Marsden
May is a month when there is no shortage of work to do in the garden but it is also a time when (we hope) the weather is warm enough to enjoy being outside with family, and soon with friends too. It is a month when many people who would never describe themselves as keen gardeners find out that they appreciate and benefit from their gardens whether that means planting up patio pots with joyful summer bedding or nurturing a few young tomato plants from the garden centre. So this month I am writing about why so-called ‘green’ activities are important and, of course, why gardening is one of the best.
It does not take much research into gardening, green spaces and wellbeing before you come across the term biophilia. The concept that human beings have an innate affinity and positive association with the natural world – that we are happy out in nature. Of course, human beings are part of the natural world and until the 19th Century brought industrialisation and cities, the lives of most people in the UK were governed by their environment, the availability of natural resources and the cycle of the seasons. Little surprise then that in the 21st Century we are learning that loss of contact and connection with nature is compromising our wellbeing and particularly our ability to manage stress.
The 2018 UK government Defra 25 year plan considers the environment key to public health and particularly mental health: “Spending time in the natural environment – as a resident or a visitor – improves our mental health and feelings of wellbeing. It can reduce stress, fatigue, anxiety and depression. It can help boost immune systems, encourage physical activity and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases …. It can combat loneliness and bind communities together.”
We do not need to climb mountains or visit wild places to reconnect with nature, although I would not discourage this! There is great benefit in shorter but regular ‘green time’ and what could be more accessible than the garden outside your door or the allotment down the road? Plus you get the joy of flowers and the satisfaction of homegrown tomatoes.
Happy Gardening from Alison
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