Being green-fingered can reduce stress, anxiety and tension.

Smiling sunflower

We are well aware that gardening is wonderful for our physical health, but the magic of this outdoor activity is that it greatly benefits our mental health, wellbeing and sense of calm to an equal measure.

Mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression and OCD, affect one in four people at some point during their lives. But, fortunately, something as simple as gardening can have a healing effect as it not only lowers levels of fatigue, depression, tension and anger, it also heightens self-esteem, mood and sense of worth.

Stress relief

One of the key aspects of gardening is that it's stress relieving. The exercise involved in gardening leads to an increase in the chemicals serotonin and dopamine in our brain, which boosts our happiness. Levels of cortisol, a hormone which makes us stressed, are also lowered.

Digging soil, raking the leaves and cutting back bushes will also allow you to vent frustration and relieving stress. At the same time, the peacefulness of the garden will allow you to feel relaxed and let go. As a result, you are less likely to display signs of unhappiness or depression.

A study, conducted by the University of Westminster and University of Essex, found that just 30 minutes a week in the garden can have a positive effect on your mental health.

Wellbeing boost

The fresh air, contact with nature, vitamin D and sweet-smelling flowers all contribute to a feeling of relaxation and calm. It has been proven that being immersed in the natural world can boost your wellbeing.

This activity also provides a purpose and something for the mind to focus on - a distraction from worries or negative thoughts. There's a real sense of achievement from what's produced in the garden.

Therapy

'Horticultural therapy' has already been implemented for some hospital patients, particularly those who have had strokes or are recovering from a physical trauma. It is also used to calm prisoners in jail.

In fact, some argue that horticultural therapy should be prescribed on the NHS. It is believed that substantial savings could be made to the UK economy if gardening were more widely used as a treatment, particularly for mental illness, loneliness and obesity.

Green and red plant in the hands of a gardener

Beat the blues

When online gardening experts Bakker, conducted research into the ways in which spending time in our gardens makes us feel healthy, 88% cited mental wellbeing at the top.

"According to the Mental Health Foundation, about a quarter of the UK population will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year, and gardening really can help," Bakker managing director Adrian Nind said. "A number of customers said that even just spending a short while in the garden before work can help de-stress before the day begins – it's great to hear that our customers are enjoying their gardens and are seeing distinct health benefits as a result of spending time in them."

So head out into the garden with shovel and shears to chase away the blues.