Daffodils in bloom
‘Stress - a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.’

Most of us don’t need a dictionary to tell us what stress is when we’re faced with the reality of living with it throughout this coronavirus outbreak.

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.

Viola in bloom

Gardening v reading

For example, a study in Holland gave 30 people a stressful task to perform and then asked them to do half an hour of gardening or indoor reading.

Researchers measured for the stress hormone cortisol and asked the group how they felt. Cortisol was found to have dropped more significantly for the gardeners than the readers, and positive mood was completely restored after gardening but became worse during reading.

Planting out

Feeling good

Put simply, being in nature, even just viewing nature, can have a beneficial impact on our brain chemistry and make us feel better.

But it can further than that. Damien Newman, Thrive’s Training, Education and Consultancy Manager, said: ‘A garden provides the opportunity to tend plants which can give us meaning and purpose and connect us to inner desires to nurture and look after things.

‘Whether its growing micro-greens on the windowsill of a flat, planting flower seeds in a border or walking around the garden to appreciate the daffodils and snowdrops, building time in nature can be very supportive of good health.’

Grass cutting

Stress-busting tips:

Cut the grass – the physicality of mowing will release endorphins which will make you feel good.

Sow seeds – nurturing new plants will give you a restorative focus and hope for the future.

Tidy up – get a sense of achievement and control by transforming a neglected area of your garden into something orderly and beautiful.

Grow herbs – growing new plants from cuttings of rosemary and thyme will offer a sense of purpose and motivation as well as enhancing your diet.

Weeding and watering - these straightforward tasks have a meditative quality and are a diversion from stressful thoughts.

Take a walk – if walking is part of your daily exercise, counting evergreens or plants in flower can provide something else to occupy your mind.

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