Knutsford GROW and mental wellbeing
Most of us know that we feel better when we are active and when we help others - there is strong research evidence to confirm and explain why this is the case. Some of this is described here, and the benefits are highlighted.
Knutsford GROW encourages people to engage with others.
Our work is in small groups, and encourages team work and social interaction with other volunteers, and with beneficiaries. Engaging in physical and social activity has been clearly demonstrated to be a successful treatment for depression. Mixing with people, and working as a team develop valuable skills, and can also help combat low mood and build self confidence.
The beneficiaries may have limited opportunities to see others. Even if they can’t get involved in the gardening, they often have a cup of tea and a chat with volunteers while their garden is tended, hence they are involved in the social aspects with the volunteers, which is enjoyable and helps to reduce social isolation in other community projects has been shown to significantly reduce the need for medical and hospital care. Meeting others, achieving goals, and working together build self-confidence and help develop social skills which are then helpful in other areas.
Volunteering, like any work, is a structured activity
As well as learning practical skills there are many other ways people benefit from a regular structured activity.
Work gives a sense of purpose, and identity, and it provides motivation to encourage us to keep active. Getting involved in an activity such as gardening can help manage stress and anxiety. Benefits include ; focussing on a calming, structured activity which can block out negative and distressing thoughts, reducing muscle tension, having a feeling of more control, and releasing endorphins.
Gardening gives a sense of achievement, as the volunteers’ efforts are clear when an untidy garden becomes beautiful, and additional positive feedback comes as the owner of the garden is pleased with the results of your work. The beneficiary feels valued as someone has taken time and effort to care for the place they live. As a result, both volunteers and beneficiaries gardening can lead to improved self-esteem which is often low when you have chronic health problems.
Gardening is an outdoor physical activity
As well as the positive impact on mental wellbeing, gardening improves physical health. It is good exercise which builds cardiovascular fitness, and helps long term flexibility, mobility, and stamina.
Gardening encourages people to get out of their usual environment and get in the fresh air to experience nature and green spaces. This is known to impact on how you think and feel and can help improve your mood and sleep It has also been shown to improve concentration, and help people with cognitive decline. You don’t ever hear people say they have a miserable time from being in a garden!
If you'd like a chat about GROW and Mental Health in confidence, please email Volunteer@KnutsfordGROW.org.uk and include a few words about it being a Mental Health Enquiry.