Growing for Wellbeing
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- National Growing for Wellbeing Week is 3rd to 9th June 2019.
- Approximately one in four people in the UK will experience mental ill health each year.
- Read on to find out how gardening can improve your mental and physical health.
What is Growing for Wellbeing Week?
Growing for Wellbeing Week is a celebration of the magic that growing your own (GYO) produce can do for your physical and mental wellbeing. Poor mental health affects one in four people in the UK in any given year and can make normal life difficult to manage. It is a common human experience, yet it can feel isolating. There is strong evidence of the health benefits of gardening and GYO, including improved confidence, communication, concentration and, ultimately, self-belief. Research has shown that gardening has several different benefits for reducing stress levels and providing the brain with different distractions. GYO provides a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, acquire new skills, connect with others and increase your fruit and vegetable consumption.
‘Life at No.27’ is a non-profit organisation that helps people to connect with others and build their confidence through gardening and GYO; even positioning it as an alternative therapy option. Take a look here.
Eight Reasons to Start Gardening and GYO
1. Full body exercise – Gardening is a multi-muscular exercise, involving bending, stretching, lifting and digging. This improves cardiovascular (heart and lungs) function, contributes to healthy weight management and the load bearing can also reduce the risk of osteoporosis and improve muscle tone.
2. Nutrition – Immediate access to a variety of fresh produce that are rich in vitamins and minerals. Common foods you can grow on your own include; legumes (peas, beans and courgettes), green leafy vegetables (high in iron), berry fruits (rich in vitamin C). Being outdoors also increases our sunlight exposure, which is the natural source of vitamin D.
3. Rehabilitation – The movement and exercise can help to reduce physical pain and help with the rehabilitation and recovery from surgery or other medical interventions.
4. Stress relief – Research has shown that gardening has several different benefits for reducing stress levels and providing the brain with different distractions.
5. Sense of achievement – A sense of accomplishment and satisfaction helps to improve our self-esteem, which increases our confidence that we can achieve whatever we set out to do.
6. Empowerment – Taking action and meeting our success empowers us, feeding our sense of self-worth and value. It deepens our sense of who we are and our place in the world.
7. Social networking – Allotments will often involve numerous people. Community interactions, helping one another and connecting with others can give us a sense of belonging and improve our wellbeing.
8. Giving to the community – Volunteering time, sharing your seeds and cuttings or just offering a conversation can be a generous act that supports the giver and the receiver. In a public setting, what you plant and grow benefits the whole community.
- Find a buddy – Gardening with a group or a friend can help you to learn from others, make new connections and increase enjoyment.
- Find a community allotment near you – Finding a community allotment can help you learn from more experienced gardeners and connect with others. Have a look here to find allotments near you.
- Patience – It may take some practice to get the best growing conditions for your plants and vegetables, with an element of trial and error to begin with.
Gardening and growing your own produce can help you to connect, be active, learn new skills and help others. These are four key elements with evidence of helping to maintain and improve our mental wellbeing.