According to a new study, gardening can increase our confidence, improve our self-esteem and boost our appreciation of our bodies. This confirms what we already know about gardening being the perfect activity to get us through the current social distancing regulations.
Foods you can easily grow indoors
The research, conducted by Anglia Ruskin University, looked specifically at allotment gardening. 84 allotment and community gardeners from London were asked to complete a body image 'measure of state' before and after spending time on their allotments. This was then compared to scores from non-gardening groups.
Both groups were also asked to rate themselves on several body image traits, including 'body appreciation', 'functionality appreciation' and 'body pride'.
What did the results find?
Results from the study found that allotment gardening improved the way people felt about their bodies, making them feel more confident and boosting their self-esteem.
"The impact of allotment gardening on body image has not been previously assessed, despite evidence that exposure to natural environments elevates positive body image," explains the study. "These results corroborate previous work suggesting that exposure to natural environments brings real benefits in terms of positive body image."
The full findings have been published in the journal Ecopsychology.
How can this help us during the coronavirus outbreak?
We are currently adapting to a temporary 'new normal' which requires us to spend a lot of time at home and in our gardens. While a lot of elements in our lives currently feel out of our control, gardening is a great way to focus on a task, feel accomplished and keep our bodies and minds active.
Can I still visit my allotment during the coronavirus crisis?
Whether or not allotments should stay open is somewhat of a grey area. There have been no government directions to close them. However, some councils have chosen to close their allotment sites if they weren't sure that social distancing guidelines could be met.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove told the Express: "I think it’s perfectly sensible for people to go to an allotment. It’s in the very nature of allotments that there’s a safe distance between people who are working on an individual allotment.”
But, if you are feeling unwell, are showing any COVID-19 symptoms or are self-isolating, you should stay at home, not visit your allotment and only go outside if it's in your own garden.
If you are visiting an allotment, the National Allotment Society has explained some of the rules to adhere to. These include...
- Keep hand sanitiser in your shed and wash your hands regularly
- Use hand sanitiser before opening and after closing any gate locks
- Wash hands when you get home
- Do not share tools
- Minimise the contact with each other for example no handshakes
- Do not wash your hands in water troughs
- Observe social distancing with each other 2-3 metres
- If you take your children to the plot, ensure that they stay within its confines and do not run around on communal paths and spaces.