St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Green spaces, gardening & wellbeing – Peer support

Mental Health Gardening

This blog is part of a series based on the infographic by Decorative Aggregates. Read the previous posts here. In this months blog we’ll be looking at how being in a garden or nature can help us connect to others.

Gardening is often thought of as a solitary activity which can be very rewarding in itself as it can give you time to relax and focus on your surroundings. However, gardening can also be a social activity in a few different ways which can bring a lot of benefits for your mental health, alongside the existing benefits that being in nature brings.

Having social connections boosts our mood in a number of ways – it increases feelings of belonging and purpose, increased levels of happiness, reduces levels of stress and improved self-worth and confidence.

This could be arranging to meet up with a friend for a walk rather than just talking on the phone so you can appreciate a local park or nature reserve together whilst you catch up. Just wrap up warm and take an umbrella and a flask with you so you’re prepared for the weather!

If you have a garden, winter is the perfect time to take hardwood cuttings from plants such as Dogwood, Buddleia, Rose and Currant bushes so you could see if any of your neighbours also have cuttings that you could swap with each other.

Finding a local gardening group or community garden project is another way to get involved and it can help you to meet like-minded people who share a similar interest to you as well as encouraging and motivating you to get outside. It can also help you to pick up new skills that you can then bring back to your own garden.

You could see if you could find any volunteering opportunities in your local community that are looking after green spaces. Whilst these may not necessarily be specifically gardening groups, you could help to sow seeds for a wildflower meadow, plant trees, do litter picks or work to keep an area looking welcoming for visitors whilst also being a good habitat for wildlife. In York, some of the charities that do this kind of volunteering include Brunswick Organic Nursery, Edible York and local ‘Friends of’ groups as well as St Nicks itself.

In the age of social media it is also possible to join gardening communities and groups online where you can discuss all things gardening related. Facebook  and Reddit are two of the most popular sites with specific groups. It’s likely you can find someone to talk to about anything from your slug situation to your tree troubles!

The joys of gardening and nature are there for everyone, whatever form you most enjoy them in, whether that is by yourself or with others but if you are looking to meet new people and have more social interactions then gardening groups are a good place to start as you know you will already have something in common with everyone else!

This piece was written by Freya Lovett who supports our Bearing Fruit group. If you are interested in joining our Ecotherapy programme you’d be very welcome.

23 December 2020 | Categories: Ecotherapy, Opinion Piece | Tags: community, cuttings, gardening, mental health, peer support, social, volunteering