There’s something therapeutic, something that slows time and bathes the soul, when you’re nurturing a tiny seedling, willing it to grow. Artist and gardening-lover, Sarah Mae, has put together a gorgeous workshop to capture the therapeutic power of gardening and art – “Stress Succs: And How To Do Away With It” on Sat 22 April, 2-4pm @ Happy Biome Studio.
Not long ago, Sarah was going through a really difficult time mentally and physically. Her body and brain were completely depleted. She says, “I couldn’t even concentrate enough to read; and sometimes still can’t. I could concentrate enough to draw and garden however. Isn’t it the most beautiful thing to grow a plant from a seed and nurture it and know that when it flowers it is because you cared for it? Gardening helped me learn to nurture myself; my plant needed food and water just like me, and just like me, its cells knew what to do…I had to learn to trust and care for my body again and seeing nature in action on a smaller scale helped me achieve this” …continue reading Sarah’s story here.
All things grow with love.
Plants and humans alike.
Women, especially, are so hard on themselves. We think we’re invincible, that we can do everything, all the time, all at once. Many women are high-achievers, perfectionists. And while these traits are admirable, they can lead to serious health conditions – physical and mental ones – when our cortisol (stress) levels are constantly being shot through the roof. My own biggest downfall is over-working, and everyday is a balancing act of work, studying, mummy-ing, and finding some down-time to self-love and to give love. Like Sarah, I’ve found there is something special and therapeutic being in my garden. Admiring a new bud that has broken open, planting a new seedling, collecting flowers and sticks and odd-shaped leaves with my girls. There is an infinite connection between our natural world and our own natural bodies. It’s impossible not to recognise the energy that vibrates between and supports the two.
I originally asked Sarah to share her experiences and her talents in a workshop, as a way of creating a space for de-stressing and replenishing our empty stores through plant love and creativity. I’m fascinated by studies that have been conducted that demonstrate health benefits of gardening and creativity. Creativity is another post, but for now, here are a few interesting findings about the health benefits of gardening and green love:
LOWERS CORTISOL LEVELS
A Dutch study asked two groups to complete a stressful task. Afterwards, one group gardened for 30 minutes, while the other group read indoors. Not only did the gardening group report better moods than the reading group, they also had measurably lower cortisol levels. Cortisol, “the stress hormone”, may influence more than just mood: chronically elevated cortisol levels have been linked to everything from immune function to obesity to memory and learning problems and heart disease. It may be more than brain hormones causing higher self-esteem scores for gardeners: there’s no more tangible measure of one’s power to cause positive change in the world than to nurture a plant from seed to fruit-bearing.
HELPS WITH DEPRESSION & MENTAL HEALTH
Gardening has been shown to help patients with depression and other mental health conditions. The growing field of “horticultural therapy” is providing proven results for patients with depression and other mental illnesses. The benefits appear to spring from a combination of physical activity, awareness of natural surroundings, cognitive stimulation and the satisfaction of the work.
IMPROVES SPEED OF RECOVERY
A very interesting study suggests that the sensory experience of looking at plant life stirs mysterious regenerative processes deep in our bodies and minds. You may have heard of the two groups of patients recovering from surgery: one group looked out their windows at green trees, while the other had only a brick wall for scenery. You guessed it: the nature-view group healed significantly faster, needed less pain medication, and had fewer complications. The biologist Edward O. Wilson calls this “biophilia”. We’re instinctively drawn to connect with other living, growing things; we want to feel part of the web of life. I’m sure I’m not the only one to energetically ‘feel’ something happening when I am in nature, or when I’m actively supporting the growing processes as a gardener.
REDUCES RISK OF ALZHEIMERS
One long-term study followed nearly 3000 older adults for 16 years, tracking incidence of all kinds of dementia and assessing a variety of lifestyle factors. Researchers found daily gardening to represent the single biggest risk reduction for dementia, reducing incidence by 36%. Another study estimated the risk reduction at 47%! Why does gardening make such a difference? Alzheimer’s is a mysterious disease, and the factors influencing its incidence and progression remain poorly understood. However gardening involves so many of our critical functions, including strength, endurance, dexterity, learning, problem solving, and sensory awareness, that its benefits are likely to represent a synthesis of various aspects.
Aren’t these some really cool reasons to reconnect with nature? There are so many ways of doing this – taking daily walks in nature, creating a vegetable garden, making furniture or art with foraged natural items, filling your home with indoor plants. Sarah has a whole garden full of succulents which she has grown from pups, and she is going to share with us how to plant, grow and care for succulents, as well as how to create some unique planters using vintage and recycled relics. This workshop will be lots of fun, therapeutic, and will ultimately give you a powerful tool for dealing with stress. Bookings and pre-payments are essential, limited spaces available. Looking forward to seeing you there!