This amazing guest post was written by Irma Hunkeler, a writer and digital marketer. You can check out her website here.
In need of a pick-me-up, or some new ways to improve health? If you’re feeling down, burned out or just in need of something new in your life, the remedy could well be on your doorstep. Step out into your garden and start taking care of it. Tending to your garden will, in turn, help you reap the health benefits of gardening and take care of yourself. Here are four ways to improve health using a garden—of both the indoor and outdoor variety. These can help boost your health and wellbeing.
4 Ways to Improve Health Using Your Garden
Losing yourself in your garden is regarded as one of the best ways to practice mindfulness, a technique that draws on Eastern Buddhist traditions and is designed to help you be more aware of what’s happening—around you, and in your body too. There are many health benefits of gardening, one of which is mindfulness. Today mindfulness is very popular and is even listed by the NHS as one way to improve mental wellbeing. “Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better,” it says.
In an article for the Guardian, Tom Smart says gardening and mindfulness “seem like the perfect match.” “There are so many aspects of modern life which people seem to disconnect from – long monotone office meetings, spreadsheet filled computer screens, cramped train rides or traffic jams. Due to the stressful and fractured nature of life, people often want to be somewhere else,” he writes.
“It doesn’t need to be like this. If you want something that reconnects you to the world around you, which makes you more mindful of the present moment, then look no further than the green grass beneath your feet. You really won’t find a better meditation mat.”
Transform part of your garden into a Zen den
If you have some space with which to play, consider transforming a section of your garden into a zone of peace and tranquility—the place you go when you need some time out. Use it to read, meditate, write, spend time with friends or simply sit. The furniture experts at Pottery Barn have created a guide on how to feng shui your garden, and they say exploring the potential of your space could help you create a new haven of tranquility.
“Streams of pebbles, raked in a smooth wave pattern, guide you through the space, between beautiful genista and euphorbia, housed in terracotta pots, and even a stone Buddha as an ornate centerpiece,” says Pottery Barn’s Courtney Lake, as he imagines what your Zen garden could look like.
“A reading bench is the perfect destination for contemplation in your garden—build and orient your Zen space around your outdoor furniture to make that spot feel as integrated with nature as possible.”
Bring the outside in
Just because you don’t have a garden, doesn’t mean your ways to improve health have run out. If you don’t have one but want to replicate some of the best effects of having one, then create a garden inside your home. Pick some greenhouse plants and indoor flowers and create an oasis of calm—in your bedroom, home office, kitchen and anywhere else. In an article for Psychology Today, Jonathan S. Kaplan Ph.D. writes that based on some experimental studies, the presence of potted plants has been found to be helpful in many spaces, including work, school, and hospitals. Plants have been shown to:
Lower systolic blood pressure
Improve reaction times
Improve perceptions of one’s space
“The research suggests that having plants around you is a good thing for your health and productivity,” Kaplan writes. Oh, and if you’re interested in which plants were used in the cited studies, they were golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum), Arrowhead vine (Syngonium podophyllum) and Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema sp.).
Make your garden a social space
The health benefits of gardening don’t only have to be yours. There are countless ways to improve health but one of the greatest remedies is good company. Being with friends and family is proven to be good for our mental health. If you don’t use your garden for social get-togethers, perhaps now is the time. In the warmer months when the afternoons are hot and those balmy evenings stay warm until later, have friends and loved ones over for barbecues, singalongs, or simple catch-ups. According to Stephanie Pappas, in an article for Live Science, Research shows that spending time with friends can help you to:
Keep your mind sharp
Get through emotional problems
Cope with rejection
So next time the forecast is sunny, and there’s nothing else on your calendar, why not get in touch with some friends and invite them around to spend time in your garden? It could boost your wellbeing—and theirs too.