15 July 2013

Study On Gardening and Depression

Gardeners World magazine has published a survey that found 80 per cent of gardeners feel satisfied with their lives compared with 67 per cent of non-gardeners.

The media have translated this finding into 'gardening beats depression' headlines; Carol Klein appeared on BBC Breakfast and breathlessly (why are all female TV gardeners so short of breath?) showing us how to sow some seeds; and a professor of Essex University has responded with:

'there would be a large potential benefit to individuals, society and to the costs of the health service if all groups of people were to self-medicate more with what we at Essex call green exercise.'

Regular readers (!) of Garden65 will guess where I am going with this ... once again commentators are viewing the world from our society's current capitalistic and scientific standpoint. Why do they think you have to DO something outdoors to get any benefit?

Is it the 'gardening' that makes people happy or merely the 'being outside'? 

How do you define a gardener? I'm sure there are people who follow Carol's every instruction, and there are others who some how or other work up a sweat in their garden and consider themselves to have done some 'green exercise'. And then again there are gardener's like me (I'm sure I'm not alone here) who buy a £1 plant at a car boot sale, shove it in the ground with little skill, then spend a couple of hours sitting in the garden drinking coffee and reading a book. The activity level of my type of gardener is very low, yet I would 100% agree with the statement 'being in the garden makes me happy'.

It's the sky above your head and the wind in your hair that is the important factor, not what you are doing while out there.  The survey confirms this by finding 75% of fishermen (and women) are just as satisfied with their lives as gardeners. Surely fishing is one of the least strenuous hobbies of all? The really significant finding was that the important thing as far as 'happiness' is concerned is having any hobby. In fact half of the respondents said their favourite hobby is computing or gaming.

I would imagine it is doing something you find meaningful that is the key - not the jumping about.

Dear Monty was right when he said it's the earth that heals.