When the future feels uncertain, tending to plants can provide a psychological lifeline.
National Garden Day, to be celebrated on Sunday (17/10), is the ideal time to head outdoors, wear a flower wreath and enjoy your garden.
If you don’t have a garden, this is the perfect day to plant something – even if it is only in a small pot.
According to Sue Stuart-Smith, psychiatrist, psychotherapist and author of The Well Gardened Mind, gardens have offered people a safe green space in which to restore and recharge themselves for centuries.
“Gardening brings us close to the soil and connects us with nature’s powers of renewal in a way that can be both calming and invigorating.”
In 2010 neuroscientist Christopher Lowry discovered that mycobacterium vaccae, bacteria that live in soil, will enhance a person’s serotonin levels, thereby stabilising mood, well-being and happiness.
In addition, the exercise of working in a garden will lift your mood and boost your immune system, while the distinctly earthy and musty smell of soil will ground you.
Studies also reveal that gardening can lengthen your life.
Five places where residents are famed for their longevity – Okinawa in Japan, Nicoya in Costa Rica, Icaria in Greece, Loma Linda in California and Sardinia in Italy – have a few things in common. Studies found that the centenarians who live there all enjoy social support networks, do their daily exercises, follow plant-based diets and garden actively.
In the United Kingdom, the Royal Horticultural Society’s Campaign for School Gardening encourages educational institutions to actively foster a love for gardening in children. Apart from boosting self-esteem, gardening benefits children by:
- improving physical and mental well-being;
- building confidence and improving communication and teamwork skills;
- improving literacy, numeracy and oral skills;
- enriching the entire curriculum – from science, maths and geography to art, design and languages;
- encouraging a healthier lifestyle; and
- helping them to engage with their surroundings better and develop a sense of responsibility.
According to gardenday.co.za, caring for plants is a generous gesture. By planting a seed you are setting wheels in motion and laying the foundation for a better future.