Coping with COVID

Did you know that there is a condition called nature-deficit-disorder? For many of us, both adults and children, there is insufficient experience of the natural world for us to enjoy both mental and physical health.

Research has shown that a 10% increase of exposure to green space translates into an improvement in health equivalent to being five years younger.

An excess of the “grey” or built environment is thought to contribute to conditions which are likely to cause to increased mental and physical health complaints, such as depression. By contrast, there have been several studies which show that exposure to a “green” environment will boost health and sense of wellbeing.

The Royal Horticultural Society has long been researching the benefits of gardening or just being in a natural environment. Increasingly the experience of being in nature is recognised as physically and mentally beneficial. It can help with some disorders, such as high blood pressure and depression and has been shown to be more effective than some medication. For this reason it has been likened to a Vitamin G (Green).

During the “lock down” this has become even more apparent. It’s been a delight to see families out and about, enjoying the spring blossom and encouraged by the government to take walks in our green spaces. Many of us are rediscovering the pleasure of being in our gardens or in nearby open spaces. The queues at supermarkets are encouraging me, at least, to be more self sufficient in food. I’ve had an allotment for many years for this very reason. It combines the pleasure of growing healthy food, being in a natural environment and, even better, the pleasure of sharing gardening tips and making friends with neighbours.

Even more topical, it has been found that garden soil is especially full of beneficial microbes which can boost our immune systems. Many studies have shown a link between childhood exposure to microbes in the soil to higher immunity rates in adults. What a pleasure to take the children into the garden or allotment, encourage them to get their hands into the soil and learn to “grow their own”.