Why gardening is the ultimate weapon in fighting the blues

Blue Monday. The most depressing day of the year. Completely manufactured to sell holidays of course, and yet it resonates because there’s no denying that this time of year can get the best of us down. Dark nights, cold weather, Christmas behind us and the only thing ahead of us the failure of our unrealistic New Year’s resolutions. And along comes Blue Monday, giving us the opportunity to collectively wallow in January’s gloom.

There’s a more constructive way to fight the blues though, and that’s by going green. We’re talking about enjoying your local green spaces and, for truly powerful stress-busting, health-giving benefits, taking up gardening.

Just immersing yourself in nature can reduce stress, increase relaxation and improve recovery. But combine this immersion with the physical activity of gardening and you are really on to a winner. Not only can you burn between 200-500 calories per hour, you’ll also encourage those happiness hormones and decrease cortisol, our main stress hormone, too. Of course, if you are putting your efforts into food growing you’ll have the added bonus of improving your diet by upping your fruit and veg consumption.   

For those of us living in cities access to nature and gardening can feel remote, especially if you don’t have a garden, but in fact urban green spaces are all around us. Around 47% of London is physically green (according to London National Park City) and there are groups across all cities encouraging nature through community projects. For inspiration take a look at BBC Two’s recent Cities: Nature’s New Wild, according to the programme London parks alone save the NHS £370 million a year. This is why we’re so proud of what we do here at Bankside Open Spaces Trust.

With open spaces across SE1 we offer local residents and workers relief from the stress of the city. Whether you spend your lunch hour in Waterloo Green, cut through Mint Street Park on your commute or let your kids blow off steam in Red Cross Garden after school, we give you the chance to immerse yourself in nature. And with volunteer gardening groups across the week and projects aimed at getting local residents growing in their communal gardens, we give you the opportunity to bust your stress, get active and grow your own produce too. Take a look today and see how you can beat the blues this Monday.

Don’t get the blues. Grow the greens!

Sarah Mangan