The Garden and its role in health
About the author, Jane Waters: “I have had an interesting and rewarding lifetime of working with nature, raising a family, working in business and teaching. I have personally realised the need for a special space in the form of a garden to escape the daily stress of normal life and have had to make do with all sorts of spaces, large and small, indoor and outdoor, to create my special ‘escape’. I am now at the point where I feel the need to share my experience and knowledge to help others to achieve a healthier lifestyle – this I now try to do through my blog frugal ferret which has money saving and healthy lifestyle tips for the family.”
First of all it must be said that the beauty of a garden is that it does not have to be park size or even a typical area with lawn; it can be anywhere and cost very little – backyard, rooftop, balcony or even just a series of window boxes. A garden can even be within the house itself by employing the right houseplants in living areas. To understand the role that gardens can occupy in leisure space and health promotion we have to begin by not looking at the garden itself i.e. the object, but rather look at it in the context in which this object itself becomes an important issue.
Looking at the importance that a garden may play in the life of an individual and their health there are 3 definite basic definitions or forms that are involved and considered in the making of a garden. All of these forms contribute towards good health and well being in some way.
Activity pursuits: - this refers to behaviour in the area which is designed to emphasize freedom, choice and self-determination e.g. hobbies, sport and games – all of which provide healthy regular opportunities for breaking monotony and restraint in daily life. Growing fruit and vegetables, apart from producing healthy food is a very healthy activity.
Landscaping: - this refers to the way we are able to transform our environment to realize escape fantasies, e.g. holidays – e.g. we create Mediterranean courtyards after enjoying a holiday in that region. We can satisfy our cravings for variety and difference, perhaps needing this as we maybe working 9.00 am to 5.00pm everyday and living on an estate where all houses are very similar. ‘A change is as good as a rest’!
Mind-scaping: - this refers to the fact that a garden can provide an escape; it can become a peaceful sanctuary, a spiritual haven, where we can go to sit and think or work and forget. In this respect it can become therapeutic, if you can go and relax and dream without the need for drugs or alcohol, or dig over your allotment it will take your mind off any outside daily pressures.
With regard to our health and our physical environment, it has already been recognized that there is a strong relationship between the health of natural systems and the well being of people. It is safe to say that we are part of nature and so are naturally influenced by contact with plants, animals and the elements. For some people going for a walk, taking exercise to keep healthy outside of the home and being able to contact the natural elements of the countryside maybe either a physical or social difficulty. Consequently it follows that the creation of an environment – our own garden – which satisfies the combination of all these things should create an emotionally satisfying response within the inner self.
The garden may create the necessary foundation of calm and confidence with which a human being can cope with stress from everyday life.....providing a spiritual support to fall back on in times of distress.
So go and make your own garden – it can be any size - in any place – or get an allotment - and you will feel healthier in every way!
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