We often take nature for granted, but research shows that gardening, or spending time surrounded by nature, can reduce stress levels and improve wellbeing, something we could all do with in these testing times. With National Houseplant Week last week, International Squirrel Appreciation Day on 21st January, and the Big Garden Birdwatch taking place from 29th to 31st January, now is the time to reconnect with nature and start feeling good!
Local charity Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care understands the benefits of nature and how it can help to reduce stress, restore energy levels and improve people’s quality of life. Its Therapies through Nature sessions, also known as Social & Therapeutic Horticulture (STH), are run by its Occupational Therapists, and offer patients an opportunity to engage with nature through table-top gardening. The sessions provide patients with a selection of plants, along with pots, soil and stones, and take them through the stages of creating a garden planter, pot of herbs, floral basket or bowl of pot pourri, for example. With patients unable to come to the Hospice or Beacon Centre for sessions during the pandemic, Phyllis Tuckwell has been running the groups virtually, sending out plants and equipment to patients and leading the sessions by video call.
Through the sessions, patients are able to get away from their illnesses and join in with an activity they used to enjoy but may now struggle to access. They can also benefit from a restoration of skills and gain a boost to their confidence and self-esteem which comes from creating something themselves. The sessions are structured so that patients with limited abilities can join in too. Many have lost muscle strength and mobility, resulting in reduced independence and the need for a carer for everyday tasks, so making a planter to take home for themselves or to give to a loved one is hugely beneficial to them, and very special for those receiving it.
These sessions highlight the importance of nature and the benefits it can bring to everyone. Simply going out for a walk, pottering in the garden, hanging out a bird feeder, or just looking out of the window at trees, plants and wildlife can lower stress levels and relieve anxiety and depression. So this winter, why not take some time to connect with the nature in your garden or local park.
If you would like to find out more about Phyllis Tuckwell, please visit www.pth.org.uk.