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30 Apr 2018

5 Ways to Feel Good in the Garden

The act of gardening helps us to keep fit and connect with others, to enjoy and be part of nature and to revel in colour, aroma, wildlife and beauty. According to the RHS, there are very few, if any, other activities that can achieve all the things that horticulture and gardening can – in particular, the measurable beneficial impacts on active lifestyles, mental wellbeing, and social interaction.

David Domoney, ITV’s Love Your Garden presenter and SANE Champion, uses his horticultural knowledge to help show the therapeutic benefits of gardening. He is passionate in demonstrating how gardening and spending time with nature can improve mental health. Whether it is through connecting with others or being present in a natural space. This article by David teaches us five ways to feel good in the garden.

Gardening can help alleviate stress and anxiety

David Domoney

The garden has such an important role to play in the battle against mental illness. Gardening can help to alleviate stress and anxiety, whilst studies have also shown we are instinctively more at ease and relaxed within a natural environment. Sometimes just having a houseplant on your desk is enough, as plants also release oxygen, which is good for our brains and the responsibility that comes with looking after a plant is enough to give us a sense of purpose and pride. Getting out and keeping up with your regular gardening jobs such as mowing, and planting can also be a fantastic way to keep fit as it is also a physical exercise which releases endorphins; helping us to feel good about ourselves.

Cultures and religions throughout the world have long since used the garden as a place for reflection and meditation, allowing for a better sense of well-being and understanding. So, whether you’re into gardening or not, just getting outside for a few minutes a day can be a real mood-booster.

But how do we make our gardens a tranquil and happy place to be? Here are my top five ways to help you feel good in the garden:

1. Get some plants in your outdoor space

First off, if you’re lucky enough to have a garden or even a little outside space such as a balcony, courtyard or even just a window box – get some plants in there. There’s nothing more disheartening to me than a garden space completely paved over with concrete and slabs, with barely even a plant in sight. You’ll be amazed at the difference even just having a few pots with some colourful little flowers and a bit of greenery makes.

There are loads of plants that are really simple to try if you’re a beginner, so there’s no need to feel daunted by the process. Sunflowers are easy to grow and a great one to do with the whole family as well. Marigolds and geraniums are pretty little flowers that can easily be planted in containers and are a lovely low-maintenance option, that only need watering every once in a while.

2. Why not add a water feature or wind chime

Once you’ve got a few plants in place, why not add a water feature or wind chime to bring a calming tinkle and chime to your space. These acoustic sounds often help people to relax. Planting fragrant plants like honeysuckle, jasmine, viburnum, night phlox and mint can also be a lovely way to improve your space.

3. Help out the local wildlife

Once your garden is a little more accommodating, you can start to help out local wildlife by feeding birds or putting up insect hotels and hedgehog homes. There’s a really lovely feeling that comes with helping out garden wildlife and feeling like you’ve done your bit. Plant purple plants to attract bees and butterflies to your garden, which also brings the lovely bumbling and fluttering sounds as they go about their business.

4. Have plants which make you feel happy

Try to find plants that make you feel good and do have them around. If you have a plant that you associate with a happy memory, like a holiday, then it’ll put a smile on your face every time you see it. If you get a real satisfaction from growing your own produce, or you just love to cook, then pack in as many crops as you can. Plants like salad crops and strawberries can even be grown in containers, so there’s no reason not to give it a go.

5. Connect with others

Gardens are a lovely place for reflection and it’s great to have a few calm minutes to yourself. But one of the number one ways to improve your garden is to invite some other people into it! Gardening is a great hobby to enjoy with other people, and it’s easy to find community gardening groups to join to find like-minded people and wonderful opportunities to socialise. Or simply invite a friend round for a cup of tea and a catch up in the garden.

Reaching out through friends and community groups can go such a long way in helping us to feel good in the garden.

If you want to find out more about the positive uses of nature on our mental wellbeing, visit David Domoney’s website and follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @daviddomoney.

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