Gardening to Aid With Anxiety & Depression.

Since moving house I have loved spending time in the garden; I have found that it really helps my mood (unless Leo is busy digging holes in the already struggling lawn).  I can feel super stressed but just going outside to sweep up some leaves or do a bit of weeding can help reduce my anxiety and stress levels.

Not having a garden was always a down side to living in London.  Some of the flats I lived in had a balcony or some sort of outside space, however this was no substitute and whenever we visited our friends, the Saunders Family, I would love being in their garden and it always made me long for one of my own, and now I have it….. wooohoooo!!!

As Kim and I are renting the house there is a limit to what we can do, however we have already achieved a lot when you consider the state it was in when we moved in.  A lot of pruning and trips to the recycling centre later, and now it’s a space that we all love to be in, especially Leo.

Our aim has been to try and make it a relaxing place to be and relatively low maintenance.  Neither of us are experts on plants, so we have gone for the usual suspects such as Lavender and Jasmine for scent, and Pansies, Heather, Fuchsias and a couple of types of Geraniums for colour.  We have also added some other plants but won’t bore you with all the names….

We also found some surprises during the clearing process; the owners of the house had planted some roses in one border which after they left became overgrown.  One type of plant Kim wanted more than anything was roses, and there they were.  Roses are your complete feel-good flower, beautiful to look at and scents that make you go ahhhhhhh.

The Saunders family also helped make the garden feel more like home by giving use their old garden chairs and buying me two dwarf fruit trees for my birthday, one apple and one pear.

Most of the time the garden is really relaxing, however one stressful item was the arch I bought for the Jasmine to climb over; I suppose for £15 I should not have expected much, but it took me three days to sort this bloody thing out.  The fact it is still standing is more down to luck than engineering, but then there is nothing that can’t be fixed with a hacksaw and some black electrical tape……

I don’t even have to be out in the garden to feel the benefits; just looking at it from inside the house makes me feel happy and relaxed.  We have hung a bird feeder in one of the trees, and love to see the birds feeding, especially our favourite, the Robin (Leo isn’t too happy though, he hates birds so gets very grumpy when they are in his garden).

I know not everyone is lucky enough to have a garden, especially those of you living in a town or city, but I would urge you to try and have some plants around your home.  You can get small pots of herbs from the supermarket, they are not only great for cooking with, but if you rub them between your fingers the smell can be very relaxing.

A lot of indoor house plants can have great health benefits because they act as natural air filters (NASA did research on this) and can help reduce stress and improve blood pressure and heart rate;  Google it and see if you can find one that will work for your home.

I have also found that looking after a garden or plants gives you a sense of purpose because they need looking after.  Like me you don’t have to be an expert and it is quite easy to find plants that are relatively low maintenance (I have always found Geraniums pretty indestructible), so make life easier for yourself rather than going for really high maintenance plants.  Go to a local garden centre and ask for advice, or search trusty old Google and Youtube for tips.

If you do have space you can try growing your own food, which is a real treat but a bit more hard work.  Kim and I were lucky enough to find a lady who had a big allotment plot which she could not cope with, so she let us take over part of it.

Again, this was really overgrown but the digging and clearing was great exercise, not to mention walking down there and back home.  A couple of times in the summer we took a small BBQ down there and had a mini feast.

There is nothing quite like eating fresh produce that you have grown yourself, we even grew Calendula; Kim made an oil out of the flowers which is great for the skin and cuts, etc (I would always suggest reading up on how to use plants and flowers for medicinal purposes, we have a great book from Neal’s Yard Remedies for this) so why not contact your local allotment organisation or just pop to your local allotments and see if there are any owners that need a hand, even if it is just a bit of weeding.

The important thing to remember is to make whatever you do manageable, in our last flat I used to grow things from seed and ended up with loads of plants and didn’t know what to do with them all (guess I could have given them away, didn’t really think of this at the time), space was limited and that became quite stressful (this was before the breakdown) so now I just buy small plants and keep it easy.

It’s not too late to get some plants for some autumn colour, or you can get some bulbs and plant them ready for spring.

Have a go, see if it helps your mood, and see if you catch the green fingers bug…..

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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