Every April since 1992, the Stress Management Society – the stress support charity – has declared April as National Stress Awareness Month.
It’s a vital cause, with the Mental Health Foundation reporting that 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed in the last year that they’ve been overwhelmed or simply unable to cope. By the Governments own population estimates that works out at over 38.5 million UK citizens suffering from stress levels so high they simply can’t function.
The impacts of stress aren’t just mental either, with the effects of long-term stress manifesting as issues like heart disease, problems with our immune system, insomnia and digestive problems.
Needless to say, stress is an epidemic and although our awareness of it has risen in recent decades, we could all do more to reduce our stress levels.
At Almondsbury, we’re proud to support Stress Awareness Month in the only way we know how – by promoting gardening as a stress relieving activity.
Does Gardening Really Lower Stress Levels?
Ask any gardener why they do what they do and they’ll often tell you that gardening is, quite simply, the way they relax after long and hard days.
That anecdotal evidence, however, doesn’t exactly scratch the scientific itch. After all, just because gardeners perceive their pastime as relaxing doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. So, what does science say?
According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, gardening does indeed lower stress levels. Participants in the study were given a stressful Stroop task and then assigned either half an hour of random gardening activities such as mowing the lawn or indoor reading.
The results? Gardening reduced cortisol (a hormone produced by stress) levels dramatically compared to reading.
How Does Gardening Reduce Stress?
There’s no shortage of theories out there as to why gardening is so relaxing.
Some, like those laid out by Stiga focus on the physical aspects of gardening. The combination of light to moderate exercise (which has been found to lower stress levels and improve mental health) and the restorative properties of being outdoors, with the sun on our neck and the wind through our hair, is said to prove exceptionally relaxing.
Others, like Thrive that the answer lies in the fact that our brains respond positively to being outdoors relaxing in our garden, with the passing of clouds and the rustling of leaves providing a deep-seated relaxation that’s linked to our history as a species which resided primarily out in the wild.
Then there are those like the Awareness Centre, who link the relaxation caused by gardening to the fact that we’re nurturing life. This increases our satisfaction levels and our self-esteem, as we see the response that our love, care and dedication can have on the life around us.
If you ask us, however, it’s all of the above. Gardening offers a huge range of benefits, both mental and physical, that simply can’t be found elsewhere. Of course, we all dream of a truly beautiful garden, but the truest beauty is that found in a happy and calm mind.
To celebrate the end of the bridge tolls, we'd love to offer our Welsh neighbours a complimentary cup of tea or small Americano from our new, relaxing restaurant, The Kitchen.
Click Here to Claim Yours!