Category: Gardening Therapy

PUBLISHED: 09:11 10 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:11 10 March 2018

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) governor Nigel Boldero. Photo: NSFT

The region’s mental health trust will hold a free half-day conference for anyone interested in mental, physical and spiritual health.

The event, Mind, Body, and Soul will look at health and recovery through social prescribing – the use of non-medical activities such as housing and benefit advice, gardening, arts and crafts, and sports.

It is being put on by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) governors, and will feature presentations from national, regional and local experts as well as stalls and workshops.

Speakers will provide an overview of social prescribing, including its key features and challenges, plans for its development across Norfolk and Suffolk, and lessons from local projects already up and running. Attendees will have the chance to ask questions and find out what’s available to help people manage their mental, physical and spiritual well-being and aid the process of recovery for those experiencing an episode of hospital care.

It follows the success of similar events organised by the Trust’s Governors in Ipswich and Norwich in recent years, which focused on a variety of topics including talking therapies, dementia, and the complex needs of people who have mental health problems and use drugs and other substances.

Workshops will focus on direct support, green therapy, arts, crafts and other interests, food and diet, sports and exercise, and soul.

Nigel Boldero, an NSFT Governor who has been involved in planning the conference, said: “I’m really looking forward to hearing about the wide range of fantastic community organisations that are helping promote health through non-medical activities. Social prescribing isn’t just about relieving the pressures on the NHS; evidence shows that these different types of therapy and support are effective and make a positive contribution to all aspects of a person’s health.

“We hope as many people as possible will join us for what promises to be a really enlightening, engaging and interactive afternoon.”

Mind, Body and Soul – Health and recovery through social prescribing, takes place on Thursday, 22 March at The King’s Centre, King Street, Norwich, NR1 1PH, between 12pm and 4.30pm.


Photo via

Guest post by Maria Cannon

At the top of the list of healthy hobbies is the quaint, peaceful pastime of gardening. According to one source, gardening actually ranks just second in the list of hobbies that could positively impact your quality of life. Aside from eating the natural produce that grows in your own garden, there are a number of health benefits to gardening. So the next time you pull on your gloves and fill up your watering can, keep all of these health benefits in mind.

1. Physical Exercise

Every time you stretch or strain your muscles in physical activity, you are strengthening them. That’s why gardening counts as such a great form of exercise. You have to stretch your muscles when you trim tall tree limbs, bend down to pull weeds, and work your entire upper body when you are tilling the soil. Just by handling general gardening tasks, you could burn a substantial amount of calories each hour, depending on how much you weigh.

2. Stress Relief

Sometimes, it’s nice to be around living things that are not demanding anything from you but your time. Sure, plants require nurturing, watering, and pruning, but gardening provides a form of accomplishment that isn’t full of stress by the end of the day. While working in the garden, your muscles can relax and stretch, while your mind can simply be focused on the task at hand. Since exercise releases endorphins in the brain, you maintain a positive mindset during activities like gardening.

3. Treatment for Depression

For many who struggle with depression, gardening might be an ideal treatment plan. When you are growing another living thing, nurturing it, watering it, and watching it thrive, you feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Some studies have also proven that when your hands are in contact with soil, it can cause a release of serotonin in the brain. This chemical can not only boost the immune system, but it is a natural antidepressant that can cause you to feel happier.

Gardening doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. You may find that gardening with others can help you overcome depression and relieve anxiety. A great way to meet people is by volunteering. There are gardening volunteer programmes available, and such opportunities may also exist at your local botanical of historic garden; for example through the National Trust.

4. Personal Quiet Time

We all occasionally need time to relax and regroup with some personal, quiet time. By setting aside time to garden, we are committing to putting down our phones and stepping out of the digital world to enjoy nature. Laying down the to-do list and picking up the spade can be the best way to give yourself some much-needed peace and tranquility.

5. Physical Wellness

The positive effects of sunlight and fresh air might surprise you. The vitamin D your body produces when you are soaking in the sun, helps to strengthen your teeth and your bones. Having enough vitamin D can also help prevent certain diseases, such as cancer or multiple sclerosis.

6. Monitor What You’re Eating

Clearly, one of the biggest advantages to gardening is the produce you grow. Homegrown fruits and vegetables are the best kind of produce for you because you get to be in control of exactly what you are putting in your body. You can maintain your garden with natural methods and avoid the chemicals that are often found on supermarket produce. Also, with a garden right in your backyard, you can have healthy snack options readily available so that you aren’t tempted to grab junk food or chocolate the next time you are hungry.

Now that gardening is at the top of your healthy hobby list, head outdoors for some rest and relaxation. Get in your physical exercise and quiet time, all while filling your pantry with healthy food you’ve successfully grown. Relax and enjoy your garden as well as your health.

Thanks to Maria for sharing this with us on Old School Garden!

Further information:



Guest Post by Maria Cannon, from Dallas, Texas, who believes we’re never too young to dedicate ourselves to a hobby. Her hobbies–like gardening–played a major role in maintaining her physical and mental health.

Gardening is a great way to spend time outdoors, get more fresh food into your diet, and transform your yard into something beautiful. But there’s one big benefit of starting a backyard garden that doesn’t get as much attention: It’s great for your mental health. Don’t believe us? Here are seven incredible things a garden can do for your mental wellbeing.

1. It Relieves Stress

A 2010 study found that 30 minutes of gardening reduced levels of the hormone cortisol, too much of which is linked to chronic stress, poor memory function, and weakened immune systems, among other health problems. Gardening outside not only had a greater effect on participants’ cortisol levels than 30 minutes of leisure reading, but the effects lasted long after leaving the garden.

2. It Eases Mental Fatigue

When your to-do list has you feeling mentally exhausted, a stroll through the garden might be the remedy you need. Time in nature has been shown to ease the mental fatigue that leaves you irritable, inattentive, and forgetful. A few minutes spent weeding or cutting flower blooms lightens the demand on your mind — a welcome break from busy work and home environments where you must tend to several things at once. After a period of quiet contemplation, you’ll enjoy a less stressed, more focused mind.

3. It Combats Depression and Anxiety

There’s a reason horticultural therapy is quickly gaining popularity. Gardening is becoming respected as an effective way to combat mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Time spent outdoors is linked to better emotional regulation and less ruminating, or dwelling on negative thoughts and feelings.Gardening also helps you meet the weekly recommended amount of moderate physical activity, another important tool in managing mood disorders.

4. It Helps Attention Deficits

Just 20 minutes spent in nature can improve concentration in children with ADHD, according to research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In fact, a short nature work improved children’s performance on concentration tests as well as or better than ADHD medication. And the concentration benefits of nature aren’t limited to children with ADHD: Adults with ADHD see improvements in concentration and impulse control after time outdoors, too.

5. It Strengthens Memory

That 20 minutes of nature can improve your short-term memory, too. Researchers at the University of Michigan found people perform 20 percent better on memory tests after spending time in natural setting over an urban one. This science has been applied to memory care facilities serving patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, where you can often find memory gardens designed to benefit sufferers’ memory function, cognitive ability, and stress levels.

6. It Improves Self-Esteem

Gardening can also improve your self-esteem — an important benefit for people with depression struggling to love themselves. Just one session in the garden has been shown to measurably improve self-esteem, with participants reporting less tension and better self-perception after tending to a garden.

7. It Makes You Feel Alive

At this point, it may sound like gardening is a miracle drug. And it just might be: One of the most stunning findings about gardening and mental health is that gardening increases vitality. People report feeling more energized, inspired, and motivated after spending time in nature, but those same benefits were lacking for activities that don’t involve green space.

 With all these amazing benefits, there’s no reason not to make gardening part of your life. After all, what’s more important than protecting your mental health? For people currently experiencing mental illness, gardening can lessen symptoms and serve as a healthy coping strategy. Not only can it help sufferers fight their illness, but it serves as a positive, productive alternative to unhealthy coping mechanisms like drug or alcohol abuse. For people without a history of mental illness, gardening is a wonderful way to preserve and improve your mental well-being for the long-term. And who doesn’t want that?

Top image via Unsplash

Author: Maria (






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