Get back in the garden and improve your mental and physical health this springtime.
There’s nothing like fresh air, dirt beneath the fingernails and a good dose of Vitamin D, to improve your all-round health. After the long, dreary winter, there’s no greater pleasure than springing into the garden to enjoy the early signs of spring – daffodils in bloom, blossom appearing and the happy chirrup of birdsong.
Gardening offers a wealth of positive factors such as time outdoors in nature, nurturing plants and appreciation of being ‘in the moment’. It’s a feel-good activity offering up a sense of achievement with every new bloom or seedling. Gardening can unburden the mind of stress as it lowers cortisol, the stress hormone, and in turn, improves mindset and improves sleep. It can have a positive impact on self-esteem and confidence through learning and building skills.
The responsibility of taking care of living things can vastly help people suffering from mental health problems, as it gives them a sense of purpose and feeling of worth. It’s a natural alternative therapy.
Tending to your garden can be the perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness or ‘mindful gardening’. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recognises mindfulness as a proven way to improve mental health and reduce anxiety. When gardening and mindfulness is practised together, it can uplift mood and enhance wellbeing.
Your gardening session will release endorphins, also known as the ‘happy hormone’ which makes you feel relaxed, energised and satisfied. Not to mention, simply being surrounded by the great ‘green’ outdoors has been proven to uplift happiness without even lifting a finger.
Gardening is a significant calorie-buster activity. You can burn approximately 330 calories an hour while tending to your pots, lawn and beds. Tending to your outdoor space is a great way to remain functionally fit and develop a strong core as the workload includes the whole body – lifting, pruning, weeding and digging, will work all your muscles and joints to ensure you stay strong and supple.
Just 30 minutes most days in the garden can help to keep blood pressure down, and all the pulse-raising activity will help to stave off heart disease. The vitamin D you’ll soak up will do wonders for your bones and immune system – but don’t forget the sunscreen.
Growing your own fruit and veg means you’ll be consuming food that’s pesticide-free and highly nutritious. Your food will taste better, you’ll be helping the planet and, you’ll find greater satisfaction in your diet.
For ideas on where to get started this spring, take a look at our spring opening tips.