Gardening can help alleviate anxiety and have a calming effect

03/03/2017

Living with mental health problems, associated learning difficulties and epilepsy makes everyday life challenging for Stuart (pictured right). 

Ryan is a horticultural therapist with Thrive at our Trunkwell Garden Project in Beech Hill, Reading. 

Having worked in mental health for eight years, an encounter with a community garden opened him up to the therapeutic value of gardening and connecting with nature.  It was clear that gardening has a lot to offer both the mind and the body.

Ryan said: "I first met Stuart shortly after I started working with Thrive and remember hearing his laugh travel across the tea room during a break in the day. Stuart attends the Trunkwell Garden Project one day a week and enjoys the social atmosphere and getting out in the garden. He is always keen to make you smile and try to get a laugh out of you.

"Stuart enjoys many of the activities around the garden such as potting up plants, raking leaves to make leaf mould piles and weeding. Even though Stuart sometimes gets anxious about certain tasks there is always time to talk about his concerns and find a solution.

"Finding the right tool for the job or changing the way to approach a task really helps Stuart reduce his anxiety and let go of his worries.

"Stuart loves to share what he has grown at Thrive with his family and support workers, taking home vegetables from his plot or some cut flowers.

"There is no doubt that sunflowers are Stuart’s favourite plant to grow and whether it is the tallest or the largest you will always find Stuart marvelling at what he has created.

"More than anything it is the social environment in the garden that provides Stuart with many benefits such as connecting with volunteers and other gardeners, learning new skills in a group and improving his self-esteem and confidence.

"Stuart already has plans for the new year and is looking forward to growing some yellow flowers, his favourite colour, to take home for his mum and growing some sweet corn and courgettes. 

"Stuart is keen to learn how to cook and I am sure it won’t be long before he can add that to the many achievements and fantastic progress he has made with Thrive."

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With your support, we are using gardening to help people to get the most out of their lives!