Sowing The Seeds Of Health

Shutterstock / Zholobov Vadim ©

For those lucky enough to have them, the garden was quite often our sanctuary during lockdown – with good reason. According to the latest figures from mental health charity Mind, over 7 million people have taken up gardening (and feel better for it) since the pandemic. And over 3 million say their mental health has benefitted from moving out of an urban area to gain access to outdoor space or a garden.

Jane Hulme, HR Director at Unum UK, reflects on five reasons why we should get out and dirty in the garden.

1 Nourishing your mental health

Spending time outdoors enjoying nature is well known to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. In fact, some GPs are now recommending ‘social prescriptions’ of Horticultural Therapy to help reduce mental health symptoms. The simple act of planting a seed or re-potting an ailing plant can boost confidence and self-esteem, as well as providing a real sense of achievement. Plus, if you’re a gardening newbie, you’ll be developing new skills while improving your focus and concentration.

2 Keeping your mind in the moment

young woman planting tomatoes plants to the paper pots.

Pic: Shutterstock

For many, the garden is a place of tranquillity, offering a break from the digital world, and those with green thumbs probably already relish the sense of being ‘at one with nature’ while they prune and sow. To this naturally meditative hobby, why not add the practice of mindfulness – in which one is present and engaged on the task at hand without distraction of thought? Truly a chance to focus on the beauty of the here and now.

3 Training your body

Woman working in garden, with a shovel planting potatoes;

Pic: Shutterstock

Gardening can also be a great way to boost your physical health. If you’re not a fan of the gym, vigorous weeding, digging and raking can all help strengthen core muscles and burn those calories. Studies have shown that, in later life, regular exercise such as gardening can even help prevent dementia. Not to mention the increased exposure to the sun during the longer days, which delivers a healthy dose of vitamin D – regulating your calcium levels and benefitting your bones and immune system.

4 Giving back to the planet

Woman gardener in orange overalls watering potted houseplant in greenhouse surrounded by hanging plants, using white watering can metal. Home gardening, love of plants and care. Small business. ;

Pic: Shutterstock

Tending to your garden is a good step on the road towards sustainable living. It’s easy to collect rainwater and make your own compost, and there are numerous plants you can cultivate to encourage and nurture bees and other useful insects. Growing your own fruit and veg really connects you to the earth, helping build a relationship with the elements and the cycle of the seasons.

5 Getting your 5 A Day

Basket of fresh vegetables

Pic: Shutterstock

We all know that eating healthily will give us more energy and help us feel better and fruit and veg are a big part of that – they’re a great source of vitamins, minerals and fibre, not to mention being low in fat. Growing your own produce is a great way to encourage you to eat more of it – and children especially love eating ‘one they grew earlier’! Stock your garden with vegetables you would regularly buy and you’re far more likely to eat what you grow. Plus, you’ll also be contributing to a lower carbon footprint and you could even lower your food bills – particularly useful in the current cost-of-living crisis.

Vibrant red and pink blooming geranium flowers in decorative flower pot close up, floral wallpaper background with mixed red and pink geranium Pelargonium;

Pic: Shutterstock

Not everyone has their own outdoor space, but we can all enjoy the benefits of gardening, even if only in a small way. Some towns and villages have ‘community gardens’ or allotments, so everyone can take part in group or private horticultural activities. Even if you only have room on the patio for a couple of tubs, or space in the window box or sill for a few herbs, everyone can grow their own. If you’re keen to get growing but don’t know where to start, take a look at the Royal Horticultural Society website, where you’ll find lots of practical advice about growing your own. And discover even more reasons why everything in the garden really is rosy.



Moira Chisholm

I'm the Health Editor on My Weekly and am always interested to hear what's new in this fascinating field. I also deal with the gardening, shopping pages, general features, our website content and the Ask Helen problem page. I have a special interest in Christmas content because I'm on the team for Your Best Ever Christmas Magazine, too!