According to Mind nearly two thirds of UK adults (63%) claim that spending time gardening or in nature helps their mental health, saying the sights, colours and smells of the outdoors makes them feel less stressed. But it’s not just those with gardens who reap the rewards, nearly half of those asked said looking after houseplants or growing food or plants in window boxes boosted their wellbeing.
Faris Khalifa from Liverpool has experienced depression, anxiety and PTSD and said, “Gardening helped my mental health unexpectedly. I was going through a bad time and didn’t care for my mini bonsai tree. All the leaves fell out and it appeared to be dead. I was really upset and guilty. I still had some hope for it so I gave it some water. Three days later, a new bright green leaf appeared and I was overjoyed. Now the plant is back to life. The simple process of caring for a living thing makes you feel responsible for its wellbeing. So even if I’m having a terrible week, I get myself out of bed and water those plants. Before I know it, I see the life in them and how the sun dances between their leaves and I feel glad I’m alive.”
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said “We’ve known for some time that physical outdoor activity can help our wellbeing. But this significant new research provides evidence that gardening in particular, plays a key role in bringing together a host of things that are good for our mental health. Taking in the sights and colours of the outdoors, nurturing and growing plants and finding space to connect with others can make a world of difference to how we feel. After a challenging couple of years, when many of us have experienced mental health problems for the first time, it’s really encouraging see the nation has drawn on the great outdoors for support."
As an organisation, Thrive will always be shouting from the rooftops about the benefits of gardening on our physical and mental health. It's been wonderful to see this surge of interest since the start of the pandemic and we are optimistic that it will continue.