What are your favourite flowers? For me, hydrangea’s are the most exquisite flowers; so many colours with diamonds in the centre. When I look at their beauty I feel cam and still. I make a point of sending flowers regularly to my mum and nan as viewing flowers in your day that give you a sense of pleasure lifts physical and mental wellbeing.
I have recently become interested in social therapeutic horticulture whilst volunteering during the pandemic. Having always been involved in wellbeing, primarily my focus has been on helping reduce anxiety, panic and depression. I have always felt that nature played a part in calming the mind and how being mindful of what you see, smell and touch connects you to the present moment. Further research into social therapeutic horticulture (STH) has heightened my understanding of how nature really does help calm the mind. STH uses plants and gardens to help improve both physical and mental wellbeing. It helps develop communication & thinking skills in a safe and secure place. They help to give a sense of purpose, engage in society and assist in finding coping comping mechanisms for mental wellbeing (Thrive). Gardening itself is a physical activity, helping to reduce sedentary time that may affect our weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Edward Wilson (1984) suggested the theory of Biophila -‘ humans evolved in nature and are happiest in a natural setting’. Wilson felt there is a primal biological need for humans to be around nature, flowers and greenery. Kaplan & Kaplan’s (1989) theory of ‘Attention Restoration Theory’ suggests that nature helps the mind escape and helps hold our attention. It helps to restore our energy which is being drained from the daily stresses in our world. Roger Ullrich (1984) felt we are genetically geared to look for threats and danger which increase our stress levels. In nature those threats and danger seem less obvious and are stress levels reduce. Nature helps with our recovery from psychological and physiological stress.
I have had a passive interaction with nature more than an active one. If you are lucky enough to have a garden you may have noticed you are spending more time looking after your plants. If you don’t have a garden like me, having a window box, vase of flowers even a picture all helps the brain visualise nature.
If you would like to be more active in nature walking in nature, gardening, growing fruit and vegetables are all parts of STH and ecotherapy. If you feel you would benefit from support if your suffer from anxiety or depression them maybe considering attending an ecotherapy or green care programme may help. These can be based in the community and often run by local charities. They may also be prescribed by social prescribers through your GP.
The following links may be helpful: