How gardening helps mental health is something that seems so obvious to me now, but although I originally trained in horticulture back in the late 90’s, I still found my mood hitting rock bottom a few years ago. I was suffering from anxiety and depression, something that drove me to the point of planning to take my own life.

Bridewell Organic Gardens

Bridewell Organic Gardens in Oxfordshire

I remember the morning clearly. I had recently been referred to local therapeutic horticultural charity, Bridewell Organic Gardens. All of the other gardeners (the term used for service users), volunteers and staff were in the warm discussing the jobs to be done for the day. My anxiety was through the roof and there was no way that I felt brave enough to join them. I escaped with a cup of tea to the cottage garden to keep out of the way and hide my embarrassment. I hated the fact that I felt so mentally weak and was wrestling with the question ‘why me?’

Then I head a friendly and reassuring voice as one of the staff members had popped out to make sure I was OK. I remember saying that I didn’t really want to be there and that I just wanted to get better and get on with life. This was the point that my journey out of depression was about to start.

“You know that you need to give yourself time Richard?” said the member of staff. It was hard for me to comprehend. We just had a baby, I had to stop working as my depression was so bad and my low mood was putting pressure on our marriage. One thing I didn’t feel that I had was time. I had to pull my socks up and get on with it – or so I thought.

The conversation continued and I began to accept that no one had a magic wand, but that this garden was a place that I could be me and take the time needed, which my hands in the soil, to get my head straight and climb out of the pit that I felt I was in.

In spring 2018 I will be walking 27 miles in one day from Oxford to Banbury via the Oxford Canal to raise funds for Bridewell Organic Gardens. Would you help me? Even a couple of pounds would make all the difference.

Here is the link: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/RichardTheGardener

How gardening helps mental health?

More and more the benefits of gardening to good mental health are being made known through various studies, however I can only speak anecdotally about how creating a connection with the soil and everything that grows and lives in it can help us slip into a much healthier pace of life.

The key benefit that I can see with gardening is that you can only ever go at the gardens pace, so you find yourself slowing down and enjoying the process of being a gardener more mindfully. In a sense it is very much like meditation as you slow to its rhythm and begin to enjoy observing the little things.

In our hectic and busy world nowadays it is no wonder that something which can help us find a bit of peace, such as gardening, helps our wellness and mental health.

I would love to hear how gardening helps mental health

I would love to hear in the comments section below how gardening has helped you! If you have an inspiring stories or have a question then please do go ahead and get in touch.

Join me on my 27 mile walk for Bridewell Organic Gardens

Fancy coming to join me on my walk to raise funds for Bridewell Organic Gardens? It will be a long day, but it would be great to have you along. More details at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/RichardTheGardener


4 Comments

Foz · 17 December 2017 at 12:37 am

Aside from the obvious mental benefits of working alongside other people and plants, I found this interesting… Particularly being microbially inclined…

https://qz.com/993258/dirt-has-a-microbiome-and-it-may-double-as-an-antidepressant/

Craig Hunter · 17 December 2017 at 6:06 pm

I suffer from severe anxiety and depression and I love to get out into the garden. The exercise is great for mental health and even the dead heading keeps my mind from wondering. Great article great read 😁

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