I was kindly given a book on gardening for Christmas and have enjoyed reading about how to make your garden good for you. The many sections include ‘The protective garden’ (allergies, pollution, sound proofing), ‘The Healing garden’ (positive effects of scent, colour, water, sound), ‘The nourishing garden’ and ‘The sustainable garden’. I’m only a little way in and was taken by the idea of the well-researched concept of Vitamin G (where G stands for green).
It’s not a real thing; obviously we don’t eat the ‘green’, but several studies have reported that “immersing ourselves in nature, or even just looking at it, is good for our mental and physical health”. Nature has such a life-enhancing effect on us that it’s been likened to a vitamin – Vitamin G. It’s recommended we take a daily dose. Apparently, pilot schemes in this country have suggested that a prescription of gardening or walking in nature can be more beneficial in treating some disorders, such as high blood pressure and depression, than traditional medicines. I love this notion, and I completely vouch for the stress relieving qualities being out in nature bring to me.
There are several studies cited in my book and without going into specific statistics, in general, people with a lack of access to green space (“nature-deficit-disorder”!) are more likely to suffer depression, anxiety, attention and mood disorders. Japanese and UK studies also link Vitamin G to increased life expectancy. No surprise. You don’t even need to be outside to gain benefits; looking out of a window at nature can lower heart rate and blood pressure in just five minutes.
I’ve previously read about ‘green exercise’, where perception of effort is lower when you exercise either outside in green space, or inside while viewing a natural scene. This effect must be related to the heart rate reducing impact of natural scenes on our brains. A theory developed by environmental psychologists in the 1980s and ’90s, called attention restoration theory (ART), suggests that “encounters with nature allow us to rest, reflect and restore our overworked minds – all of which is vital to good health, and improves our ability to focus and perform effectively back in the grey, urban world”.
I’d like to write a bit more about this theory in my next blog.
Until then, keep well, enjoy the outdoors wherever you can and stay cool!