GARDENING AS A STRESS RELIEF - DEREK
I think I really discovered gardening after a few years living without a garden to call my own. When my wife and I bought our first house, I found joy in even cutting the grass. I get to switch off from all of life’s worries for 45 minutes and listen to music or my favourite gardening podcast. What was once a chore when I was younger is now the perfect escape from the stresses of day to day life. It may not be the most glamorous side of gardening but the simple things in life rarely are.
In the early days of getting to know our garden, I began to grow potatoes and any other seeds that I could find. I started to research what I could grow and realised that I could grow so much more than just the basic crops that back yard gardening is known for. I began growing fruit and vegetables that I had never heard of, let alone seen in a shop. Golden raspberries or white strawberries are wonderfully flavourful and a real conversation starter.
I outgrew the vegetable patch in our garden within the first couple of years and took on the challenge of an old over grown allotment. I definitely took on more than I could manage, but I took it one day at a time and really immersed myself into it. Being able to stop off at the allotment on the way to work has really helped to decrease stress levels from regularly working 60 hours in a week. Even just five minutes would help to change my mindset (hence the “five minute gardener 😉)
I work in finance for a large company, and any errors can turn out to be very costly for the business. When I garden, I have to surrender myself to nature and allow things to be less than perfect. Some years are too wet, others are too dry. I can try and work around this but ultimately there is a great sense of relief in knowing that some things are outside of your control. If I cannot change it or prevent it, it is simply one less thing to worry about.
In these uncertain times, gardening has become an escape for so many people, with more people than ever getting their hands dirty in the soil. Gardening is the perfect excuse to get outside regardless of the weather and can simply help to break up the day whilst we are locked down.
Last Spring as the weather improved, we started spending more time with our son in the garden and sure enough he grew curious of what I was doing. Although he was not yet two years old, he sowed all the seeds that I grew last year. As the year went on, his genuine interest in gardening grew. When I would pick him up from nursery, he used to ask to go to “his” allotment. Not only does gardening help him enjoy good food but he gets to learn about where it comes from which unfortunately not all children get the chance to. The “one minute gardener” as he is affectionately called, knows that if you give a plant “sun and rain,” it will “grow bigger.” Not bad for two years old!
What started off as a way of reducing my own stress and improving my well being, the act of gardening has brought so much more to my life – it is a way to improve my knowledge of so many things (plants, soil, environment), a place to teach my son (the future generation) and a place to spend quality family time
If you need more piece of mind to get you out there in the garden, remember that gardening sustainably and organically can not only help your wellbeing and that of those around you, you might just contribute to offsetting your carbon footprint and helping the environment.