Growing your own vegetables, taking care of plants, cultivating flowers, cutting hedges and weeding is much more than the joy of eating homegrown vegetables and herbs – it is therapy and in many ways really, really good for us new research from the independent charity King’s Fund shows.
Increasing people’s exposure to, and use of, green spaces has been linked to long-term reductions in overall reported health problems (including heart disease, cancer and musculoskeletal conditions); it has also been linked to reduced levels of obesity and high physical activity, and higher self-rated mental health.
Studies have shown significant reductions in depression and anxiety, improved social functioning and wider effects, including opportunities for vocational development. Research also shows that allotment gardening improves mood, self-esteem physiological measures such as cortisol (associated with acute stress) compared with matched controls.
When you’re doing gardening, you are active rather than sitting inactive. At the same time you are deeply focused on the present moment and in touch with nature instead of always being in the process of trying to make sense of any thought chaos. You enter a state of mind where you are not constantly in contact with the analytical parts of the brain, but instead you let your mind drift away and feel calm. Working in the garden stimulates both body and mind.
Studies shows that only 30 minutes of gardening a week can help with everything from depression to anger and confusion.
Photo by: di.wineanddine
Researchers uses this knowledge when helping people with stress. One example is the Nacadia Therapy Garden, situated in the Forest and Landscape arboretum in North Zealand. The arboretum has the benefit of being the forest with the most species in Denmark. The Nacadia Therapy Garden is a 1,5 hectares inside the arboretum. Nacadia is an enclosed area with differently designed natural rooms where stays in nature, activities and therapy sessions can take place.
They help people with horticultural therapy, cognitive therapy, physiological training (mindfulness inspired exercise, breath techniques, meditation techniques).
Photo by: Nacadia