Mental health and a pandemic: How to use gardening to get through

Dwarf Sunflower seedlings.

Gardening is an easy, pleasant way to ease the mind and make you happy. That’s essential at the moment.

Living in lockdown is tough for everyone, after nine weeks people are getting bored and those living on their own are suffering more than ever. Distraction works well and this is where gardening can come in handy.

Caring for plants comes with so many positives; it’s rewarding, it cures boredom, it can be as cheap as you want it to be, you can grow food and help wildlife at the same time. Some plants even have their own medicinal uses. Gardening is one of my own personal favourite things, growing a plant from a seed, and knowing that I’m helping wildlife at the same time, is one of the best feelings. It’s certainly helped me during the lockdown.

It’s also one of the most versatile hobbies a person can have, as you can do it without a garden. If you have a hanging basket, a windowsill, a shelf or a balcony you can garden and care for plants. It doesn’t have to cost the Earth either.

Most supermarkets supply compost at bargain-bin prices. You can also find outdoor and indoor plants and seeds, but you can easily take seeds from the peppers you chop for a salad, or pips inside apples or even cuttings from other plants. If you fancy branching out into something a bit more expensive, then the garden centres are open and even the internet – it’s all available at your fingertips. 

I took some sunflower seeds from my Dad’s wild bird seed mix and now have some little sunflowers dotted around the garden which makes me happy as it’s something I’ve grown, and I’ve not had to spend any money.

Social media is also a great way to access free plants and offer plants to others, as well as allowing you to join groups that have the same interests as you and where you might find help and advice. This can help you to remain social during the lockdown, whilst staying safe. There are groups on Facebook for plant admiration, as well as for advice on what certain things are and what’s a weed and what’s not.

Lots of plants come with medicinal uses and these plants are great to have in your gardens or on your windowsills. Lavender is a plant that can help you sleep, bees and butterflies seem to love it as well and it deters the horrible bugs such as flies, and the gel inside Aloe Vera leaves is great for your skin! Aloe Vera is one of my personal favourites as it’s so smooth on the skin and is great for combatting dryness as well as soothing burns. 

Gardening can be one of the easiest ways to ease stress, as it distracts you from other things going on in your life as you have to focus on the job in hand. Looking after your plants and just watering them, repotting them, cutting the grass, tiding up the outdoor area is enough to distract you from what’s going on in the world for a short while whilst you focus on your own sanctuary.

Remember the term ‘green gym’? That’s because gardening can be physical as well as good for your mental wellbeing. Gardening isn’t just planting plants, it’s tidying gardens up too, by cutting the grass and cutting down trees or cutting hedges, or even just sweeping concreted areas up and these make it quite active. 

It’s not too late to start your own patch or hanging basket. The weather’s getting better and it’s the ideal time to plant peas and tomatoes or summer flowers. Why not give it a go?

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