Let's Talk Gardens

Chronic pain patients, myself included, can struggle with their mental health. A number of studies have suggested that “depression promotes pain and pain promotes depression” .

Given this joyous outlook, it’s no surprise that it can take time for people with a chronic pain diagnosis to make changes in their lifestyle - but there are a number of adjustments recommended for when they do.

These usually start with exercise, diet and meditation. Diet and meditation are ok, but what if you don’t have the energy to exercise? What if you’re in too much pain?

It’s becoming obvious that the key to starting recovery might be right outside your back door…in your garden.

Gardening is thought to improve the outcomes of patients with mental health issues

Gardening is thought to improve the outcomes of patients with mental health issues

In fact, it’s looking likely that gardening not only helps your mental health and reduces stress, but it can help physically too - reducing high blood pressure and helping you to keep fit. This is where it helps massively with fibro and chronic pain symptoms; it’s a very gentle form of exercise, that you can built up at your own pace, without having to leave your house (well…you get what I mean). I mean, some of it you can even do sitting down if you need to! Exercise, no matter how gentle, releases endorphins in the brain. These are what make you feel happy! Win-win, so far.

I love watching the bees!

I love watching the bees!

On top of all that, it gives a sense of purpose and responsibility. There are always things to do in the garden, at every time of year! Whether the roses need pruning or you’re fighting a war against slugs, there’s a task to keep you focussed - there’s no time to think of your problems when you’re busy.

It’s a space where you control what happens. A small part of your life that is a haven, where no one else can intrude, unless you choose to let them. In fact, it’s been seen to be so beneficial for people like us, that one GP has been “prescribing” gardening for his patients since 2015 - and it’s looking like a number more will soon be following suit.

My favourite way to look at it is summarised perfectly by Audrey Hepburn, when she said “to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”. With that in mind, I’m fully intending to share chat from my time in our garden, my own little happy place. I don’t always have the energy, and when I do it can wipe me out, but it’s still food for the soul.

What do you think? Has gardening helped your mental health? Have you been prescribed time outdoors?

We’d love to hear your experiences!