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‘Plants not pressure’ the new campaign from Thrive is advocating gardens and green space as a place for men to grow their mental and physical strength. The campaign supports Men's Health Week 2024 taking place from 10-16 June.

Studies show that gardening and time in nature can have a significant role in keeping us emotionally, psychologically and physically healthy. Thrive, the national charity promoting gardening for health and wellbeing, is encouraging men to get involved by spreading the word about green benefits and to get outside to experience the positive effects. Resources on how gardens and gardening support men’s health and wellbeing, plus activities and tips are available in Thrive’s online guide.

This spring, Thrive created a ‘Gardening and Men’ survey to further understand men’s relationship with gardens. 117 male respondents participated from Thrive’s Gardening Club newsletter in which:

  • 91% said gardening helps boost their mood
  • 87% said gardening helps improve their physical fitness

Supporting ‘Plants not pressure’, Ambassador of Thrive Mark Lane, who is a garden designer, author and TV gardening presenter says: “Studies show that gardening-based interventions for people experiencing mental health problems can lead to a reduction in the symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety, and an increase in self-esteem and better mood. It’s been well documented that gardening can improve alertness and social skills as well as reduce reliance on medications and self-harming behaviour.”

Horticulturist, garden writer and broadcaster, Monty Don OBE VMH told Thrive: “I garden because I love the process and the result. It is an endless source of fascination and pleasure. But I also garden because it returns me to myself. It sets the world and I straight when things have gone awry. Being outside, being aware of weather and season, nurturing living plants and investing in a growing future is a powerful source of hope - and with hope, anything is possible.”

The mental and physical benefits of gardens and Green Care interventions are highlighted in the Mental Health Foundation report on Mental Health and Nature. Gardening was included in the ‘Be active’ advice in The Five Ways to Wellbeing evidence-based public mental health message developed by the New Economics Foundation. And, the NHS now prescribes Social and Therapeutic Horticulture (STH) to improve health.

Whether they’re used for gardening or projects, as a green gym or a social environment, gardens offer men a place to work it out, sweat it out, talk it out and chill out. Allotments, sheds and garden rooms, garden tools and gadgets, and fire pits and BBQs all invite men to benefit from green space.

Everyone has their unique stories and experiences with gardens and gardening. Horticulture student Leo channelled his creativity into a grounding gardening career. He says “Gardening full time helps to keep you fit and strong, but the physical benefits also come as a by-product of reduced tension, breathing fresh air, movement and contact with nature’s microbes…Being in touch with nature helps to put a lot of things in life into perspective. I find it very grounding and calming working in the garden in the fast-paced world we live in…For me, horticulture is best with a mixture of socialising and space.”

Follow ‘Plants not pressure’ for more stories from men who have benefitted from time in the garden including more from Mark Lane who speaks of his mental health challenges and how gardening helped his recovery following an accident, and Jason Williams, award winning garden designer and ambassador of Thrive, who lives with anxiety and depression and tells how gardening supports his mental health.

Top tips from the Get Gardening members to get men outside in green space are:

  1. Make the time for it even if you’re busy
  2. Choose activities you want to do
  3. Keep things simple and don’t put pressure on yourself
  4. Pause to enjoy and appreciate your efforts

Resources on how gardening can support men’s health and wellbeing, plus activities and tips are available in Thrive’s online guide at thrive.org.uk/get-gardening/supporting-mens-health-through-gardening.

Explore activities, guides and inspiration on how to Get Gardening for your health and wellbeing and sign up for the bi-weekly Gardening Club newsletter at thrive.org.uk/get-gardening.

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Lu and Aiden