It’s no secret that we are a nation of keen gardeners; in fact, 57 per cent of people claim to have an emotional connection with their gardens, to the point that they would be upset if something happened to them. However, when it comes to the winter months many of us turn away from our gardens in favour of nights in front of the TV.

With AXA Insurance’s Stress Index recently revealing that over eight in ten (82 per cent) Brits feel stressed at least some of the time during the week, it’s important that we don’t let anything get in the way of what makes us happy. However, many of us choose to turn to guilty pleasures to lift our moods, especially during the winter months, with 51 per cent choosing to watch TV to reduce stress and anxiety.

While watching TV is not harmful per se, the problem is that there are many alternative activities that could have a better impact on both our physical and psychological health. Gardening is just one of these activities, with 50 per cent of people reporting an improvement in their happiness after taking up the hobby. Forty-four per cent also said that gardening also helps them relax and reduces anxiety, whilst 42 per cent report an overall improvement in their psychological health.

Concerns over personal health

There are many things that can lead to increased stress levels; however one of the most common causes according to AXA is concerns over personal health. Three quarters of people are worried about their health in general, whilst 68 per cent and 69 per cent are concerned about eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise respectively.

On the other hand, 41 per cent of people who practice gardening have said that it has improved their physical health, even though most people only spend around two hours a week working on their plots. Taking this small amount of time to be a part of nature and do some gentle to moderate exercise could prove the key to reducing the nation’s stress over their health.

Year-round gardening ideas

As mentioned, it’s not always easy to keep up with hobbies during the winter months, especially those that depend on being outside such as gardening. Here are three ways you can enjoy gardening all year round:

Prepare your garden for winter

The winter months are the perfect time to tidy and trim back your garden, as well as perform other ‘clean-up’ jobs such as raking leaves and maybe even building a few raised beds. Wrap up warm and get out in the fresh air and winter sun and both you and your garden will feel the benefit.

Plan ahead for spring

Plan ahead and plant bulbs such as tulips and daffodils ready for a wonderful spring display of colour. You can also plant bulbs in your pots in layers according to their different flowering times, ensuring you have constant flowers and colour in your garden throughout the year.

Move your garden inside

Growing house plants can also be a fun and relaxing activity. You can easily grow cacti from seeds; all you need to do is pop them on a sunny windowsill and see how quickly they grow. Collecting old jars or vases and planting them with succulents to make terrariums can also be a fun winter activity. The therapeutic effects of gardening watching things grow need not only be for those sunny days, and can be an essential year-round de-stresser.