September 17, 2021

Grow your own wellness!

With research showing that gardening and being mindful of the outside is good for our health [1], Annabelle Padwick, wellbeing practitioner, has shared her tops tips on how gardening and growing can have a positive impact on wellness, for the Grow With Yakult campaign.

Science shows that exposure to green spaces and outdoor sunlight, including our own gardens, has proved successful at improving mental wellbeing, reducing depression and anxiety symptoms, while also having a positive effect on stress reduction[1] [2].

The benefits aren’t only for the outdoors, as science shows that sharing your indoor space with living plants has a positive effect on your mental wellbeing as well[3].

Annabelle, who is a professional gardener, wellbeing practitioner and founder of Life at No 27 (an organisation aimed at helping people through gardening), has shared her top ways gardening and growing can benefit wellbeing:

1. Take your time when growing new seeds

Every time we sow a seed, it’s a chance to grow something new – whether it’s a lettuce, mizuna, tomato or even an idea. Next time you are sowing your chosen seeds, slow down your pace and sow one at a time, allowing yourself to really pay attention to every bit of the seed before you place it down and cover it in soil. Take time to notice your breath and think about what other seeds you might like to sow in your mind, such as a big next step, a new focus or the courage to change a situation.

Seeds look very little sometimes, just like some of our ambitions, but each one is packed full of potential and with the right care, time and patience, they can grow into incredible things – just like our goals.

 

2. Allow time for exploring

Having space to explore, empty our minds and express ourselves in a creative way is hugely important for wellbeing, especially when we’re young.  Children often aren’t playing outside as much as previous generations and being stuck indoors may be disconnecting children from the natural worlds[4], so getting them outside to enjoy practical and fun activities such as gardening and growing may benefit.

Do you have a child who is struggling emotionally? Give them a sense of ownership with their own area of the garden which is also a space for highly beneficial sensory activity. Two things we all really need!

Let your child do anything they wish in this space – whether it’s filling it with Japanese vegetables, flowers, a bean den, bug hotel or mud pie kitchen. It may not fit in with your wider garden aesthetic, but the benefits could be hugely rewarding for them.

 

3. Use it as your workout

Gardening is a great way to keep physically active and I use it as my outdoor gym – it’s excellent for my wellbeing and much cheaper than a monthly subscription!

The gym can sometimes be a daunting place but in the garden, you can move at your own pace and speed – plus, you get rewarded with so many delicious vegetables!

Some simple ways you can get moving more and build up your strength while gardening include:

  • Start by walking around your garden, increasing the laps as your fitness builds. Take time to notice the birds, new wildlife and plants as you go!
  • Picking up seed trays, filling them with compost and sowing seeds is an easy way to start building arm strength and flexibility
  • Switch bending over in the garden to reach your plants, for squatting down instead. Just make sure to keep your toes in front of your knees to prevent injury.
  • Bags of compost and full watering cans make for excellent weights for lunges, bicep curls and many other exercises.

 

4. Get rid of the weeds!

Weeding is an ideal therapeutic tool, making for a safe way to relieve stress and obtain clarity. Next time you’re feeling stressed, confused or angry, head out to the garden.

Try and mentally place your negative thoughts and feelings on to the individual weeds, then get weeding… pulling out all those negative weeds and thoughts at the same time. This will then make space for new plants, opportunities, and positive emotions.

Suddenly a boring chore becomes much more satisfying!

 

5. Eat your vegetables!

Fresh salad leaves, herbs, root vegetables and beans are a source of vitamins and full of goodness. There’s no better feeling than the sense of pride you get from seeing them grow and then being able to enjoy them. Plus, in my opinion, they taste so much better!

Grow With Yakult invited thousands of people to grow their own Japanese vegetables, discovering how to sow new plants from seeds and harvest the results – and finally, learning how to cook with the vegetables to create delicious meals from scratch while being mindful of their wellbeing at the same time.

The initiative offered up to 10,000 people the chance to sign up to Grow with Yakult and each received seeds for five Japanese vegetables – Ishikura Onion, Mibuna, Mizuna, Radish Mooli Minowase, Tatsoi – as well as a detailed guide on how to grow the seeds, gardening tips and recipe inspiration from chef Yuki Gomi on how to use the vegetables once grown.

The campaign also includes insights into the science around gardening and wellbeing, as well as resources and live cook-a-longs on Yakult’s social channels.

For further information, please visit www.yakult.co.uk/GrowWithYakult or Facebook @YakultYUKIE and Instagram @Yakult_UKIreland #GrowWithYakult.


References

[1] Soga M et al. (2016) Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis. Prev Med Rep 5:92-99

[2] Webb AR et al. (2018) Meeting vitamin D requirements in white Caucasians at UK latitudes: providing a choice. Nutrients 10(4):497

[3] Soga M et al. (2016) Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis. Prev Med Rep 5:92-99

[4] National Trust (2012), Our Natural Childhood Report