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Posted by Zoe Stitt on May 30, 2022
The 6th – 12th June is National Growing for Wellbeing Week and we can't wait to get outside and reap the benefits of an afternoon spent in the garden!
National Growing for Wellbeing Week is an initiative set up by Life at No.27. The aim is to raise awareness and celebrate all the advantages that growing and nurturing your own plants and produce can bring.
The campaign helps to highlight the link between gardening and mental and physical health.
Life at No.27 is a non-profit, therapeutic organisation, set up by founder Annabelle Padwick. Annabelle, who has an extensive resume of therapy qualifications, is also a keen gardener and as a child, spent many hours in the garden with her dad where her love of gardening blossomed (pun intended!).
Combining her passion for behavioural therapy and spending time in the garden, Annabellle founded Life at No.27 to champion the idea of gardening as an alternative therapy for both adults and young people living with mental and physical issues.
Both the mental and physical benefits of gardening are extensive. You may be a novice in the garden, or a seasoned professional, but have you ever stopped to think of the joy and happiness that gardening can bring? Imagine seeing the cautious, green head of a tiny new shoot that you’ve been nurturing for weeks, finally peep out of the soil. Or you're sat in the sun, enjoying a vibrant, healthy salad filled with fresh ingredients that you have lovingly grown, nurtured and harvested in the oasis of your own back garden. Just imagine what joyful and happy experiences these and many other similar events are, or can be.
Whatever your experiences with gardening and growing, one thing we can be sure of is that donning our garden gloves and getting out there makes us feel good!
We’ve previously explored the link between spending time outside and good mental health in our blog on – How To Garden With Mobility Aids (click here to read it), where we discussed the fact that there are several studies that support the idea that gardening can improve the mental health of adults, as well as benefiting children with low moods.
A reason that we feel our mood is lifted after being outdoors is due to something called – serotonin.
Serotonin is a ‘feel good hormone’ and is triggered when we are exposed to sunlight, as the brain releases it in into our bodies. This flood of hormones helps us feel calmer, more focused and generally improves our overall mood.
There is strong evidence highlighting that serotonin also helps to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a disorder that causes low mood at times during the year when daylight is less prevalent. Experts suggest that in order to help combat SAD, we should get between 2.5-10k lux a day.
Lux is the measurement of light that actually reaches us, as opposed to lumen, which is how much light a source gives off. For example, a lamp may produce 10k lumen, but we only get 8k lux, and this number would decrease the further away from the light source we got.
Getting the daily recommended number of lux is relatively easy during the months when the days are longer, but to help keep SAD at bay in the darker months, daylight therapy lights are a useful daily living aid until the daylight returns for longer periods.
Whilst we know gardening improves mental health, the ways in which it helps are varied. For example, people living with conditions, such as anxiety, find the idea of visiting a busy, crowded area daunting. Gardening allows us to spend time outdoors in the safety of our own garden, or that of a friend or a family member, whilst also giving us a fulfilling hobby to help focus our busy minds.
If, like many people living with anxiety, you struggle with the idea of not being able to control certain factors in your life, gardening gives you an area which you can control. Do you want to put those tomato’s next to the lettuce? You can. Do you want rhododendrons in front of that rose bush? No problem. Your garden is your own little (or large) oasis – you’re in control.
Life can be hectic; most people have a lot on their plate and sometimes, we forget to make time for friends and family. If you’re thinking of getting started on the garden, why not make a day of it? You could recruit your friends and family to come over and help get the job done, giving you a great excuse to spend some time with loved ones whilst also lightening the load – it’s a win-win situation!
Once the jobs are done, sit back with the people you love, watch the sun go down whilst the music plays softly from your garden speaker in the background. There’s nothing quite like spending quality time with those closest to you to lighten your mood and lighten the load.
When the sun comes out, we all like to try and head outdoors and make the most of it. Whilst we need to be responsible with our skin, experts suggest that there are benefits to exposing it to the sunshine for as little as five minutes a day.
When we spend time outdoors, the sun encourages our skin to produce vitamin D which is known to help our bodies absorb and retain calcium, critical for bone health.
The sun can also help with certain skin conditions. The World Health Organisation explains that the UV rays found in sunlight are used to treat a number of common skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis and acne, to name but a few. However, it is important that we protect our skin from over exposure to these rays by using a high factor sun screen and taking frequent breaks in the shade.
In addition to all the wonderful things gardening can do to help our mental wellbeing, there are a number of physical benefits to getting out there and growing plants and vegetables, too.
Gardening can be a fantastic way to exercise, improve endurance and strength, and work on our flexibility. If you’ve been thinking about heading to an exercise class, or the gym, think about gardening instead, because as little as 30-45 minutes of basic gardening tasks can burn up to 300 calories and give you a good overall workout.
However, not all of us want to attack the garden with the enthusiasm of a child in a toy shop! If, like us, you prefer to take it a little easier when it comes to exercise, there are ways to make sure you don’t over do it.
Garden rollers are a wonderful way to move around the garden whilst offering somewhere to sit and take a rest between all the digging, planting and tending.
Gardening can also have a positive impact on our diet. If your garden oasis includes a vegetable patch, not only does the tending and growing burn calories, but those homegrown vegetables that you harvest are a key source of goodness for our bodies.
When it comes to our mental and physical wellbeing, if we really give it some thought, we realise that some of us aren't really looking after ourselves as well as we could be. Allowing ourselves some ‘us’ time to head outside, be amongst nature, and just soak in the great outdoors is a start, but we need to make sure that if we are going to get green thumbed, we take care of ourselves at the same time.
Whilst being good for us, gardening can be strenuous, especially if we don’t keep on top of it.
Kneeling on the damp grass, or hard surfaces, whilst tending to our outdoor sanctuary can often leave us with sore knees. Garden kneelers are an effective way to combat this, making sure we have a comfortable surface to use and keeping our lower limbs protected and dry.
Our backs are especially at risk when we are out in the garden, not only do we find that we’re doing a lot more bending than normal, lifting plant pots and soil can take its toll on us.
To protect our backs, we like to put our potted plants on wheeled pot movers which let you push them around a patio. These are especially useful if like us, you change the layout of your plants weekly!
If you want to try and minimise bending as much as possible, long handled tools can help you garden from a standing position.
Whether you want to try and increase your fitness, explore alternative ways to improve your mental health, learn some new skills, or simply just want to have some fun in your garden, National Growing for Wellbeing Week 6th – 12th June is a great excuse to get out there.
You don't need much to get started, a small number of tools, the motivation to get going and ultimately, self belief that you can create a space to be proud of.
Ability Superstore is one of the top mobility and gardening aid websites in the UK. We've recently opened our Lancashire based mobility store, so why not pop in and see us?
If you have any queries, or questions, Ability Superstore has a team of friendly and experienced staff that are available to help you find the perfect gardening aid, daily living aid, or disability aid to make your life easier.
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Happy gardening, everyone!