World Mental Health Day – 10 October

Gardening for wellbeing

Wild flowers

There’s all kinds of research that shows that gardening is good for your physical and mental health. The number of calories burnt from 30 minutes of gardening is comparable to playing badminton, volleyball or practising yoga; it can reduce depression and anxiety; and just living near a green space can reduce mental distress and boost wellbeing.

We manage St Ann’s Allotments, so we know first-hand the incredible difference that green spaces, gardens and growing your own can make to people’s lives.

We recently asked allotment-holders what their allotments had meant to them during the pandemic. Their responses are a wonderful illustration of how gardening and nature is good for your mental health.

“It’s been my sanctuary, I don’t know what I would have done without it.”

“I work in a hospital with teenagers with mental health problems. I love my allotment, it’s the way I relax, listen to the birds, watch the wildlife, and grow my vegetables. It’s a great achievement to be able to grow from scratch and then be able to put it on your plate. It’s great for health, wellbeing and your mental health. It takes you away from all the stresses and strains and relaxes your mind, I love it.”

“I work hard in the building industry but almost without fail go to my plot before going home to survey the goings on and relax.”

“It’s been an incredible source of joy, peace and decompression. We only took on the allotment just over a year ago and despaired of ever getting our overgrown plot cleared and tamed. Now it all seems much more possible. Absolutely love the discoveries and learning, yesterday we were visited by a tiny frog and the previous week I discovered a beautiful paper wasp nest in the shed. Just slowing down enough to observe the intricacies of the life of the plot is an amazing part of the current situation and something I’m determined to make part of my ‘new normal’. Love it so much, feel so lucky!”

“Being in the allotment gives an escape that lots of people don’t have at this difficult time. Although it’s hard work, the end result is really enjoyable and for the first time I have been all around the site, it’s vast and really interesting.”

“It’s been my sanctuary during these tricky times and given me a sense of purpose. Also the health benefit of regular exercise and fresh air. So pleased I took a plot on. Also met some lovely other gardeners in passing in the car park for a socially distanced catch up.”

Allotment-holder, Wanda Mayer, shared her story with the Nottingham Post last year, talking about how her allotment helps her when she’s feeling anxious or depressed.

“I can be really down, but if I come up here and do something my mood changes. Here it’s calm and peaceful. It gives me something to look forward to.”

Read Wanda’s story

Laurence Henry, winner of BBC’s MasterChef: The Professionals, is another of our allotment-holders. He told us how the allotments make him feel:

“I love St Ann’s Allotments, it’s like having my own little secret garden. They are nice and private although the community is full of lovely people. I find it a great space to escape from the world and enjoy some time to myself.”

Read our interview with Laurence Henry

Where’s your favourite green space?

How does being outdoors help you with your mental health and wellbeing?

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