Gardening: Watch your health blossom

Did you know gardening isn't just a great workout - it may also do wonders for your wellbeing? 

Outdoor pursuits like gardening can have a restorative effect.

Helen Rimington, says, “When we get outdoors and take action our mental wellbeing tends to improve”.

Keeping stress in check

“I believe that gardening is a wonderful stress management technique. It allows us to focus on the task at hand and be in the moment rather than ruminating on past issues or feeling anxious about the future,” says Rimington.

Dutch scientists have looked into the potential impact of gardening on reducing stress. In their study, they asked 30 people to complete a stressful task where half of them gardened outside for 30 minutes while the other half read books inside. The research found that the gardeners reported better moods than the readers and had lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels.

"Gardening allows us to focus on the task at hand and be in the moment rather than ruminating on past issues."

Managing depression and anxiety

Gardening may also help some people with depression and anxiety.

A Norwegian study looked at the effects of ‘therapeutic horticulture’ in 28 people with depression. After taking part in the therapy, most participants found that their depression symptoms were less severe and that they maintained this level of health when they were assessed again after three months.

A great social outlet

For some, gardening is a great excuse to unwind and escape the chatter. Gardening can also be incredibly social as passersby say hello or stop for a quick chat about your geraniums and the weather.

For those without a backyard, community gardens (fast growing in popularity) might be up your alley. Not only can they allow you to dabble with your hobby and learn new skills from others – it’s a chance to meet like-minded people.

“Gardening with others can have a strong protective value in terms of social connections. It’s a chance to talk with others, co-operate and get involved,” says Rimington. “I think this kind of connectedness is a mainstay of positive mental wellbeing.”

If you’re looking for a community garden, check your local council’s website or find one on the Australian Community Gardens website.

Qantas community garden

It's nourishing

For some gardeners, Rimington believes there’s nothing more satisfying than eating your own produce after months of nurturing them.

“Many people are also delighted by a sense of achieving something, the same feelings of control we might get from having a tidy house or ticking off all our tasks at work.”

Plus, not only does home-grown produce taste better but it’s usually better for you because it’s generally freshly picked and eaten when ripe. It can also be a great incentive for improving your family’s health – after all, studies of after-school gardening programs suggest that kids who garden are more likely to eat their fruit and veg. And they seem to be a lot more adventurous about giving new foods a try.

If you need an outlet for lifting your spirits, give gardening a go. And don’t worry if you struggle to keep your pet cactus alive. Just ‘being’ in a garden is sometimes all you need to help turn your mindset around.

Not only does home-grown produce taste better but it’s usually better for you because it’s generally freshly picked and eaten when ripe.

Qantas Community Garden images

Qantas Community Garden

Be inspired by Qantas' community garden, proudly supported by Bupa. Here, employees are invited to grow their own produce, and attend Bupa cooking demos and healthy eating seminars to support their wellbeing.   

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