If having a garden was a great advantage for people during the lockdown, it is not only because of the need for space. Indeed, horticulture and gardening also are beneficial for your mental health and have a real therapeutic value.
The topic of mental and social benefits of gardening has been discussed in the UK bestseller by Sue Stuart-Smith, The Well-Gardened Mind, which talks about the ability of gardening to decrease stress and foster mental well-being.
A distinguished psychiatrist and enthusiastic gardener, Sue Stuart-Smith is a great inspiration when you want to work on the topic of mental health linked to gardening.
“When we sow a seed, we plant a narrative of future possibility. We all need to feel a sense of potency and to give and receive nurture”, she writes.
She also particularly emphasized the love of psychiatrists for gardens. Famous child psychiatrist Donald Winnicott who for instance enjoys a roof garden in London and a cottage garden in Devon, or Freud who talked a lot about his love for flowers.
Besides, many studies have shown that gardening can have healing powers, such as reducing stress and improving mood, but also reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. According to research, gardening even helps improve confidence and motivation, as well as relaxation, recreation and reducing aggressive behaviour, self-harm or addictions.
Studies have also shown that looking at nature makes your brain produce more serotonin, which has a calming effect.
« Being able to escape by gardening can provide a much-needed stress respite, and an opportunity for the more creative parts of our brain to come into play. The result often is a recalibration, a resetting, and a rejuvenation », says clinical psychologist Dr. Joshua Klapow.
Growing vegetables and fruits is even better since it creates a sense of self-reliance and community, as feeding others is a social act that can really help your mental health. Gardening can also be a way of connecting with others and making friends, as well as connecting with the world.
Indeed, having a garden means that you create a relationship with the earth and with the elements since you have to care about rain, temperatures, and generally the cycle of the seasons.
But it can also be a physical exercise, which creates endorphins, as well as giving you a sense of purpose, pride, and self-expression. Plus plants release oxygen, which is good for your brain. So whether it is for your physical and social well being or for your mental health, gardening really has a ton of beneficial effects, and there is no excuse for you not to do it, so get involved!