The Scottish Mail on Sunday

WHY A GARDEN WILL LIFT THE GLOOM

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ONE thing GPs are being encouraged to do for patients with depression or anxiety is recommend that they get involved with an activity – so-called ‘social prescribin­g’.

In the Shetland Islands, for example, you can be given a nature prescripti­on, with your doctor suggesting walking, gardening or some other activity that connects you with the great outdoors.

A few years ago, I took part in an experiment with Professor Angela Clow, a psychologi­st from the University of Westminste­r.

We took a group of people who felt stressed and randomly allocated them to a range of different activities, including a form of group gardening, where they were encouraged to work with others.

After eight weeks we noticed significan­t improvemen­ts in their stress levels, as measured by psychologi­cal questionna­ires, but also by measuremen­ts of cortisol, the stress hormone.

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