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Why Spending More Time In Your Garden Can Boost Your Health!

Here in the UK, many of us cherish the time we spend in our gardens, particularly as spring arrives and nature begins to breathe new life into plants and trees. It’s a time of year full of hope and promise as we anticipate the warmer days ahead.  There are many ways in which  gardens contribute to our health and mental wellbeing. 

One of the nicest ways to enjoy the beauty of your garden (particularly in the UK’s unpredictable climate!) is a summer house. These timber structures are typically located in a secluded spot in the garden where they offer a blissful bolthole away from the distractions of everyday life. 

The summerhouse has large windows combined with French doors to maximise your view of the garden, so you can sit comfortably out of any breezes, and enjoy its beauty to full effect. It also ensures that the structure is flooded with natural light to enhance the feeling of space and sense of connection with nature, blurring the lines between the outdoors and inside.

Exposure to nature and natural light has been scientifically proven to regulate our mood, because it causes the body to release serotonin. This is a neurotransmitter and hormone that plays a key role in regulating our mood and emotions, helping us to feel happy and stable. It also helps us to sleep better, eat well and remain mentally agile.

Low levels of serotonin are associated with a range of health conditions, including depression and anxiety, sleep disorders, and digestive problems. Maximising our exposure to natural light can help to guard against these issues. Increasing our connection to nature can also lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, helping us to switch off after a busy day.

Summerhouses offer the perfect place to reap these benefits even when the weather is not quite perfect, as you can still spend some time enjoying a coffee or a good book while bathed in natural light. They can also be a stimulating environment for creative activity, away from the clutter and busyness of the main house.

The light-filled space can be an ideal art or craft studio, where inspiration is all around you. It lends itself to any creative activity where you need that sweet spot of quiet and solitude, combined with a productive and stimulating environment. 

Research shows that spending time outdoors in nature can tone down negative emotions such as anger, stress, depression, anxiety, grief, and fear. It can also amplify more positive feelings and improve our mood. If you enjoy gardening yourself, you are probably already aware that even a few minutes spent outdoors can leave you feeling uplifted and calm.

In a piece written on behalf of the National Garden Scheme, Dr John Butcher, a teaching fellow in Neuroscience at Aston University, explained the health benefits of gardens from a scientific perspective.

Dr Butcher writes: “Simply viewing plants has been shown to change our brain activity, in addition to reducing stress, fear, anger, sadness, blood pressure, pulse rate and muscle tension, an effect that has similarly been observed in children too.”

“Participating in gardening has been shown to change brain activity and lower blood pressure, whilst green spaces with biodiverse habitats are associated with less depression, anxiety and stress. Similar effects were seen in hospitals too and have been advocated for hundreds of years (Florence Nightingale was a fan!)[…].

 “Additionally, it has been shown that short walks through a garden improve mental health, as does having house plants in our home, passively viewing green spaces was shown to change brain activity and improve mood in control and depressed patients and virtually viewing natural scenes was recently shown to reduce anxiety levels in college students.”

“Recently, landscape features described in the Contemplative Landscape Model have been shown to increase two frequency bands of brain waves: frontal alpha and theta activity, which may indicate higher levels of mindfulness and wakeful relaxation.”

Yet another benefit that a summerhouse can provide is a special place for socialising and entertaining guests. This provides a relaxed and informal setting for gatherings with family and friends, where you can nurture the relationships that mean the most to you. This is essential for our overall mental wellbeing.

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