Benefits of gardening during difficult times
I am sure it’s not a coincidence that here in the UK we have seen an increase during this COVID time of gardening and people wanting to escape to the country. I am somehow reassured that during these difficult times we have returned to that connection with the natural world – it seems we perhaps are not as disconnected as we might appear to be. Gardening, whether growing veg or flowers, in containers or in an allotment, has all the elements that can help create a positive mental space – being outside, disconnected from never-ending 'work from home' laptops and screens, focussing in on specific tasks and getting into that flow state, fresh air, sun (mostly!) and the rewards of achieving something (mostly!).
For some, it has been a drive to self-sufficiency, for others a way to fill the time in a safe way, perhaps a way to entertain the kids when other options are closed. But I also feel that the gardening gene runs deep in our culture, whether we know it or not. Front garden space says something to the world about you, and the back garden is a safe and private space where you can create a world of colour and comfort as you see fit. I think that we also secretly like the drama and disappointment of waiting to see if our growing efforts succeed. That's what helps build the empathy with our natural world.
Empathy with the natural world means building a connection to our environments, caring for it and embracing it. Doing this can help us feel more connected to ourselves and to others. It helps us remember that we are by nature, social and community loving creatures and part of a much bigger system.
2020 has been a horrific year in many ways because of COVID-19, I mean talk about hammering home the power of a virus to have such an impact on our human way of living. Globally. The impact of the pandemic seems to have really brought home in many ways the precariousness of human existence – we can fly people out to the International Space Station but we can’t find a solution to this virus (yet). But it has also allowed people to do things in a different way, reconnect with needs and shake up the status quo. You don't have to have done any gardening at all to benefit from the green space, and if you are willing to give things a go you might be surprised at how much peace, creativity and excitement you can generate. And, bonus, it's easier than we might think to get into the green space.
How can I get some green space benefit?
- If you have a garden or a balcony, now is the time to have a look at the garden brochures to plan for 2021. What could you try and grow in your space? Salads are really easy to grow - you could even plant some now in a container.
- Can you find a space near you in nature where you can go and sit? Make this your 'sit space' and begin to observe and immerse yourself in the natural world. What do you see? What do you hear? How do things change over the year?
- If you are a big fan of exercise, can you swap out your gym time for some outdoor adventures? Whether hiking or biking, getting out in the fresh air does wonders. Perhaps you are one of those very adventurous outdoor swimmers?
- How can you bring nature indoors? It could be as simple as a bunch of flowers or a new houseplant - nurturing nature is a powerful feel-good exercise, even if you don't always succeed.
I hope that you can find a way to get out into nature and to connect with the space – it’s just what we need right now. As the seasons start to change, our ability to get out into the natural world will also change so don’t worry, we still have time. Let’s see what nature has in store for us this winter. Knowing the way this year has been going, I have no doubt it will keep us on our toes.