Down the garden path! Gardening is an effective way to cope with stressors of daily life

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July 12, 2020 3:00 AM

From encouraging a healthy sleep pattern to improving the heart rate and blood pressure, gardening is an effective way to cope with the stressors of daily life.

Watering dry flowers with a yellow watering can. woman taking care of her plants ( and watering them ) in her garden. Woman working in garden.

If you have been feeling under the pump lately, consider investing in your own little patch of green, as a home garden can help you destress and also beautify the home. Planting colourful bloomers, like a bushy bougainvillea, for instance, can make your yard more welcoming. Bougainvillea, the national flower of the Caribbean country of Grenada, is a popular tropical vine with colourful bracts. It’s a stunning flower plant with a cheery appearance and bright-coloured petals.

“Instead of indoor activities (like watching TV, desk work, etc), one should get involved with outdoor activities like gardening, as it helps you connect with nature and also takes away the stressors of daily life. It’s a physical activity and so, if regularly done, it can help in maintaining physical fitness. Japanese researchers have found that spending 30 minutes gardening can not only lower stress hormone (cortisol) levels, but can also improve the heart rate and blood pressure. It even boosts the mood. If you have a home garden, make it a part of your daily routine to play with soil… water the plants and nurture them… this will give you a feeling of belongingness plus happy surroundings. You can also reduce pollution this way and grow your own organic vegetables,” says Seema Singh, chief nutritionist, Fortis, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi.

Some greens remind you of gardens around the world even while you remain at home unable to travel. Take, for instance, orchids, a diverse and widespread family of flowering plants with blooms that are often colourful and fragrant. Orchids remind one of the National Orchid Garden in Singapore, which is home to 1,000 species and 2,000 types of hybrids (over 60,000 individual plants). The Orchid Garden is part of the Singapore Botanic Garden, which was named a Unesco World Heritage site in 2015 and is the only tropical botanical garden on the list. Or take the case of the bonsai tree that connects us to the Omiya Bonsai Village in Japan, which is home to several bonsai nurseries, five bonsai gardens and the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, which houses a collection of over 120 painstakingly-sculpted bonsai.

Tending to house plants is an effective way to cope with the rising levels of stress and the monotony of being restricted to one’s home. Looking after a home garden also adds a certain amount of structure to the day-to-day life, providing a break from an otherwise sedentary lifestyle. Spending time outdoors provides a great chance to enjoy the rays of the sun too and get vitamin D. “Gardening as an activity is a very mindful experience. It gives us a break from the fast pace of everyday life and a much-needed digital detox. It exposes us to different colours, sights and fragrances. It makes us feel more connected to nature, bringing about a greater sense of community—it can be a great family project too that gets all members of the household involved and engaged.

Studies speak about the health benefits of house plants—ranging from reduction in levels of stress, anger and fatigue, and an increase in productivity, life satisfaction, quality of life and positivity,” says Samir Parikh, director, department of mental health and behavioural sciences, and chairperson of Fortis National Mental Health Council at Fortis Healthcare, Gurugram.

Plants are also perfect air fresheners, purifying air inside rooms while also enhancing the interiors. You may consider placing a flowering plant like lily in your bedroom for this purpose. A research study paper, ‘Interior Landscape Plants For Indoor Air Pollution Abatement’, by the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) in 1989 identified that leaves, roots, soil and associated microorganisms of plants have been evaluated as possible means of reducing indoor air pollutants. Plants, through photosynthesis, convert the carbon dioxide we exhale into fresh oxygen, while removing toxins from the air we breathe. Indoor plants have a calming effect that helps encourage a healthy sleep pattern.

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