The theme for this year’s mental health awareness weak is loneliness – something that 1 in 4 of us in the UK reportedly experience some or all of the time.
Among the coping strategies suggested by The Mental Health Foundation are keeping busy, stimulating your mind, partaking in light physical activity, and finding communities of people who ‘get you’.
It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that 70% of people say gardening has had a positive impact on their mental health.
In addition to keeping your mind busy and focused on a soothing task, gardening is a way to keep active, improve mobility and reap the health benefits of spending time outdoors. It is a light form of exercise, where the focus is on creativity, self-care and relaxation, so many find that their physical health improves without them even noticing. Working with your hands and seeing visible results when your labour comes to fruition can be a uniquely rewarding and motivating experience, boosting your confidence in your own abilities. Immersing yourself in nature reduces the body’s cortisol (stress hormone) production, while triggering an increase in natural endorphins which improve mood.
Ultimately, time spent in the garden is time invested in your own physical and mental well-being.
These benefits and more can be achieved through gardening in a social context.
Gardening in a group is a great way to meet new friends, build a sense of community togetherness, and learn new skills in the company of like-minded people. Allowing yourself time away from your daily routine to engage in a new activity, in the safe and secure garden setting, can be invaluable in feeling less alone. Here, you can make connections, extend your support systems, and play a role in building empowering and supportive communities, at a time when many feel that society is becoming worryingly fragmented.
The Walled Garden at Mells is a community plant nursery and café whose staff are passionate about combating isolation, bringing together the community, and improving mental health in the local area and beyond. Loneliness is a significant issue in rural areas, with many people experiencing isolation due to factors like age, disability, or bereavement.
Sam Evans, the steward since 2018, believes strongly in the benefits of therapeutic horticulture and the value of supportive communities.
Amidst the beautiful scenery of the Walled Garden, we work with a number of talented instructors to offer a variety of accessible workshops and free therapeutic programmes. To find out more about the work that we do, or to book your place on one of our workshops, follow the link below: