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We live in stressful times but can time in a garden really make a difference to how we feel?

As we’re slap bang in the middle of Stress Awareness Month, we asked some friends of Thrive what puts them, in the words of Queen and David Bowie, under pressure? And how does gardening help them cope?

WHAT MAKES YOU STRESSED?

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David Domoney: 'I think we all experience stress from everyday life. Given what I do for a living, I’m incredibly fortunate to spend a fair amount of time surrounded by the natural world, but a large proportion of time is also spent travelling the country quite a lot to give talks, interviews and keep TV filming commitments, so there are daily stresses involved with that.

'It is really important for everyone to take time out of their schedule, from the parts of life that demand our attention, and to be mindful and reconnect with the simple things in life which make us joyful.'

Annabelle Padwick

Annabelle Padwick: 'I definitely find uncertainty and a lack of control stressful, especially the not knowing of what will happen or what to do.'

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Katy Perceval: 'Generally, what stresses me is the ‘big’ stuff – the impact of climate change on nature and the world’s poorest, and the fallout of Covid-19. Gardening may not be able to cure that, but it certainly provides some balm.'

HOW DOES GARDENING HELP?

David: Gardening is a wonderful resource to make use of. For me, it’s an escape from the routine of daily life and it focuses the mind on one simple and uplifting task at a time. Not only this but the work you put in rewards you tenfold. Spring is especially gratifying because you begin to see little tokens of life, bulbs bursting into life and trees budding, green returning to the deciduous trees. I use the time in my garden to connect with my children. Teaching them how to look after plants in the greenhouse or watching the wildlife enjoy our garden together is my favourite way to de-stress.

Annabelle: Gardening really helps me manage my thoughts and stress levels as it distracts me and makes me focus on simple tasks. I find sowing seeds especially helpful as it gives me a sense of positivity and hope for what’s to come, delicious veg or beautiful cut flowers. I get to choose the seeds, sow them and have the responsibility to look after them, which mentally gives me back some control. It’s the best stress buster!

Katy: Gardening vs stress. For me, gardening wins hands down every time. It keeps me grounded, literally. At home, tending the pots of herbs outside my door, I think of nothing else – I don’t have a private garden, but it’s enough. Volunteering at Thrive? Well, it’s just me, our team and the seeds and soil beneath our hands… happy days.

How your garden can be an antidote to stress

As April is Stress Awareness Month, we’ll try and offer suggestions on how to deal with it, and it may not surprise you to read that gardens and nature have a lot to offer.

Find out more