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For the love of nature

What are your favourite flowers?  

For me, hydrangeas are the most exquisite flowers; so many colours with diamonds in the centre. When I look at their beauty, I feel calm 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 helps 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 mechanisms for mental wellbeing (Thrive).  

Gardening itself is a physical activity that helps to reduce sedentary time that may affect our weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. 

Ed ard Wilson (1984) coined the theory of Biophilia which noted that ‘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. In 1984, Roger Ullrich noted that we are genetically geared to look for threats and danger which impacts our stress levels. In nature, these threats and danger seem less obvious and our stress levels reduce. Nature helps with our recovery from psychological and physiological stress. 

I have had, up to now, a passive interaction with nature more than an active one. If you are lucky enough to have a gardenyou may have noticed you are spending more time looking after your plants. This may be especially have been true in recent lockdown. If you don’t have a garden like me, having a window box, vase of flowers or even a picture all helps the brain visualise nature. 

If you would like to be more active in nature to help your mental health, The GAP Project in Dorchester can help you. Our ecotherapy group can help improve your mood, physical health, confidence and self-esteem through a range of activities. We create wildlife habitats, sow seeds and plant fruit and vegetables for the local foodbank 

If you would like to take part, please email or visit our website here.

Thank you to our guest blogger, Sharon, for writing this blog.

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