In these difficult times of COVID-19, immersing yourself in the green life has never been more important for your mental health and wellbeing.
Nature can help us switch off – from forest bathing, to a stroll around the park, to gardening. This connection, known as biophilia, is the reason we are instinctively attracted to nature and is the result of thousands of years of evolution.
Dr. Lyndal Plant from Urban Forester, believes the physical and mental health benefits from nature could be even greater at this time, because of increased stress people are experiencing – especially in high-density urban areas such as apartment precincts without in-dwelling access to green space.
“We already know that even small doses of green space are essential. Nature is there to help us stay physically and mentally strong and these benefits could be exponentially higher – at a time when we need it most,” said Plant.
Getting your hands dirty takes it up another level.
“Gardening activities like digging, shoveling and playing with soil can provide instant gratification for your mind. Focusing on an activity like this can be a great distraction from feelings of anxiety and can produce a rewarding end result. It helps to ‘stay in the moment’ and appreciate the process.”
Given our isolation, why not try planting a few herbs and veggies? There’s nothing like the thrill of seeing your first sprout pop it’s head through the soil to say hi and this process can help encourage optimism through planning and caring for something that will grow and be harvested in the future.
If you are squished for space or live in an apartment, not to worry, find a sunny spot in your home and get the satisfaction of seeing your plants grow up close and personal. A tiny patio, a windowsill, or even a few boxes stacked near the light will serve as a growing space – or how about trying an indoor vertical garden or DIY green wall?
Alternatively, Toni explains that even passive activities like repotting a succulent or simply tending to your plant babies as they grow can still be a great form of relaxation and mindfulness.
So whether you’re getting amongst the plant life in the garden, over the windowsill, or from the floor of your lounge, gardening and tending to your indoor plants can help to reduce stress, increase positive feelings, and bring a sense of fun and hopefulness to the day.
So if you’re mind is feeling somewhat restless, turn to your garden or plants and try Toni Salter’s top tips on gardening for mindfulness:
- Take it slow, don’t rush the activity and use your senses at every step — see, smell, taste, listen and feel the objects you are working with.
- Don’t expect perfection — it takes time and practice to get things perfect, but plants are often quite resilient, just like us, and will handle a few mistakes along the way.
- Enjoy the process more than the end result — it’s not always about how things turn out, but we can make the most of the time we spend on it.