Saturday 2 November 2019

Gardening for Health

In my recent post, I touched on the fact that I’m a carer for my wife. I also commented on how I need to get out of the house, not away from my wife and to have a place where I’m not working for a living, caring, living, sleeping and spending way too much time in.

I started working for myself and from home so that I could keep an eye and look after my wife about six years ago. To go from working in an office of engineers who you could bounce ideas off and discuss technical issues, daily life and world events etc. to working on your own from home is quite a transition. Add to the mix the caring for someone with mobility issues 24/7, and the taking on most of the household duties and shopping and cooking is quite another.

Now I’ve never been a person who likes the Winter in terms of the lack of daylight and increased wet weather and I can relate and I tick many of the symptoms listed for people that suffer with Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD) which is a type of depression that one can experience during particular seasons of the year.

For me Winter and the lack of long sunny days lasts way too long and It only feels like there is some light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not another train coming towards me when I get to the end of February / March when I get to visit the Garden Press Event in London and start getting everything ready for starting off seedlings, playing with compost and I start feeling like I have more energy, I’m more optimistic, happy and less worn out all the time. I keep looking for the solar panel on my head but the sun really does energise me and recharge my batteries.

Studies have found that the mental health benefits of gardening are extensive. Even something as simple as having a plant on your desk can reduce stress and make you feel more energized and able to think more clearly, and many that suffer from anxiety or depression have found gardening and caring for plants to be incredibly beneficial. Not only can regular gardening reduce mental health problems like depression and anxiety, but it can also reduce stress and combat high blood pressure, as well as improving overall physical fitness.

Scientists have discovered that the mycobacterium found in soil can improve brain functions while boosting moods. The mycobacterium vaccae found in the soil increases serotonin produced in the brain (also known as the “happy” chemical). By getting your hands dirty, you're also making your brain happy!

Therapeutic horticulture and healing gardens have blossomed in U.S. settings as diverse as hospitals, school yards and prison grounds. Visitors enjoy therapeutic benefits that include reduced stress and anxiety, and increased hope and happiness.

I was extremely happy to see the invite to the 2020 Garden Press Event email pop into my in-tray and very quickly confirmed I would like to attend again this year. As all ways I spent some time looking at who is attending the event, I like to visit their web sites over the winter months and research what new varieties of seeds or new products they are bringing into the marketplace in the following year.

Whilst scanning the exhibitors list I and found three organisations based around Therapeutic Horticulture that I would like to let you know about.

Thrive has been using social therapeutic horticulture (STH) and gardening to change people's lives since 1979. They are dedicated and passionate about the health benefits that gardening and spending time in nature can bring. Thrive use gardening to bring about positive changes in the lives of people living with disabilities or ill health, or who are isolated, disadvantaged or vulnerable.

Annabelle Padwick is a professional gardener, wellbeing therapist, successful freelance writer, vlogger, speaker, potato growing addict and radio personality. Using her fresh approach to promote the magic of gardening and super passionate Founder of Life at No 27 Inspiring more people, particularly the younger generation, to put down their phones and pick up a spade. Annabelle has become a regular face at events throughout the gardening calendar and hosts a monthly radio show where she shares her allotment journey, the latest in the gardening industry and top tasks each month. Having looked at the Life at No 27 web site and Facebook Group, I’m really looking forward to meeting Annabelle at the gardening Press Event in March 2020

Greenfingers Charity are a national charity dedicated to supporting children who spend time in hospices around the UK, along with their families, by creating inspiring gardens for them to relax in and benefit from. They create beautiful, well-designed outdoor spaces for children to enjoy with their family, friends and siblings, whether through play and fun, or therapeutic rest and relaxation.

Greenfingers Charity is driven by the belief that time spent outdoors, away from the bedside, can offer children and families under considerable stress a vital opportunity to embrace the benefits of being in the fresh air and engaging with the natural environment. They are committed to creating specially designed, stimulating garden spaces that can bring many benefits to children with life-limiting conditions.Whilst many people may take for granted the simple pleasure of being able to enjoy a garden, for these children, their siblings and their families, the chance to spend time together outdoors and away from the bedside is precious.

Here are a few more links to organisations and articles that discuss how getting in touch with nature & gardening and health are connected

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