14 - 16 September 2021
NEC Birmingham UK

27 May 2020

Growing produce and mental wellbeing

Annabelle Padwick
Growing produce and mental wellbeing
Ahead of National Growing for Wellbeing Week, we asked the week's founder, Annabelle Padwick, to share her top tips for maintaining your mental wellbeing.

Believe it or not, humans and plants are very similar, so establishing that connection and experiencing the most natural remedy given to us is super important. Some might say that we have more complicated emotions, but have you experienced how fussy and confusing some plants can be. I definitely have! We both need the right amount of food, water, nurture, patience and support to truly thrive in life.

It’s so easy to let ourselves wilt, but maintaining our own strong mental wellbeing is key.

Here is my top 5 ways that growing your own can help improve wellbeing:

Connect

Establishing a direct connection to the soil, grass, plants and wildlife can be incredibly grounding. Go barefoot and put your hands in the soil, so that you can feel the earth’s energy. Watch the ladybirds, butterflies and bees, then gently pick up wiggly worms. Feel the different textures and smells of the plants, or if you don’t have any plants full of sensory benefits such as vegetables, herbs, flowers and grasses, see if you can incorporate them in to your garden. There is no greater connection that growing your own food – sowing a seed, watching it grow, then harvesting your produce from the ground and nourishing our body with its goodness. It is so easy as an adult to only allow yourself to look around, but sensory play is fun and incredibly calming for all ages – not just children.

Imagine

The garden or any outdoor space is a great place to explore your imagination.  We can naturally see further; so, our creative ability and mind naturally widen too. During lockdown, have you felt your creativity and mental capacity slipping away? I certainly did, and that was because other than an hour of exercise a day, I was in the same spot looking at the same walls. When usually I would be moving constantly, driving around, finding new plants, engaging in conversations with many people, exploring new places and seeing new views. All activities that widen our imagination and creativity. Use your garden to see further and open up new thinking, take time to imagine the idea of new plants growing and imagine how the vegetables will taste. What else in your life do you want to imagine?

Be creative

Creativity or as I like to call it, play, is key. Understanding and sharing confusing or upsetting feelings can be really tricky, but letting them out in other more practical ways works really well. Creativity gives us control and an escape, just like our outside space can. We all as children or adults need an element of control to feel confident and safe. Whether you have a huge garden or a few containers, that space is yours to go wild! Constantly play with plants and colours, combine them, move them about and create a space that lets you plant out some of those emotions and soothes your soul.

Relax

“I wish” you might be saying, but one of the great things about gardening is that many of the processes are quick, but also quite meditative. So long as we break tasks down into chunks, give ourselves breaks and don’t over complicate things for ourselves, growing our own food can be super relaxing. If you currently find an element of gardening stressful, is there a way you can change it? Digging can be a great stress relief to some, but choosing to no-dig can save a lot of time, physical energy and be better for the soil. Remembering that there is no right way to do anything is another key element to relaxing. It is your garden or outside space, so do it your way, at your pace.

Learn

The garden is great place to learn new things in a safe place with no worry of judgement. Whether that’s patience, the power of nurturing or how to grow a carrot – the ground is a fantastic teacher. How does learning new things help with wellbeing you may ask? Well knowing more about what is around us and gaining new skills can really boost confidence, which in turn can make us empowered, happier and calmer. We know more, which means we can do more and have less uncertainties. Plus, once you know to how to look after a plant, it is sometimes much easier to understand how to look after ourselves and why.

Lastly, download the Growing for Wellbeing resource pack – 36 pages of free activity ideas and inspiration.

National Growing for Wellbeing Week takes place from 1st - 7th June 2020. Head to the Life at No.27 website, to find out more!

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