As we go to press, the headlines are full of the news that GPs in Scotland are going to prescribe ‘nature’ as a treatment for ailments such as high blood pressure and anxiety. And this has got me thinking. On the one hand, it is a brilliant idea – how could sunshine, fresh air, gentle exercise and contact with nature not be beneficial? I know that at difficult times I have often found solace in the garden.
On the other hand, I have seen social media getting over-excited. And I rather feel that we should be careful about global panaceas. Gardening can take people away from crowds and stressful situations, but by the same token, as a job, it can be quite isolated and physically demanding. What is sauce for the goose may not be sauce for the gander, if, for example, one is a stressed-out and sedentary office worker and the other is a self-employed rural plantsman.
And it is a double-edged sword in other ways. Outdoor jobs like gardening are pleasant and creative, yet these very factors are regrettably frequently used to justify poor pay in skilled people. As if a nice job somehow compensates for not being able to cover the bills. Adding a generic ‘good for your health’ may not be that constructive – you can’t actually eat all that lovely fresh air.
So let us take the headlines in our stride and aim to be sufficiently self-aware to do what is best for ourselves. It may be dark and cold but if we feel low then a good gardening session or brisk walk is probably just what the doctor ordered. At the very least, it gives mediation time and perspective. And that is not to be sneezed at.