Naritas Finance
Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Mandy Hughes, Casual academic in Arts and Social Sciences, Southern Cross University

After spending many years living in refugee camps, gardening can provide a safe space to establish identity, rebuild lives and attain happiness.

A new study on the Myanmar former refugee community in the regional city of Coffs Harbour revealed the importance of gardening, and in particular how this connection has a positive impact on the mental health of people who have faced severe trauma and are now settling in an unfamiliar place.

Read more: The science is in: gardening is good for you

What did the study find?

People from refugee backgrounds face many complex challenges when they arrive in a new country. Engagement with food can present both a challenge, in terms of unfamiliar foods and foreign ways of cooking, as well as a way to be happy when traditional foods can be found and shared.

Previous studies have shown how migrants often adopt poor food habits when settling in a new country. A key finding of this new study is that traditional, often healthier foods are preferred. One way to access these foods is through gardening.

Read more: Resettled refugees adopt Australia's bad food habits

The sub-tropical climate and fertile soil in Coffs Harbour make it an ideal place to grow foods like those from Myanmar.

All participants in this study had home gardens where they grew traditional foods such as “very hot” chillies, rosella (a type of hibiscus grown for their leaves), a big variety of Asian eggplants, as well as other “jungle” foods. Growing these rare (in Australia) plants was possible through the well-developed Myanmar community network that shared seeds, seedlings and crops.

How gardening can improve the mental health of refugees Rosella leaves are a common ingredient in Myanmar cooking. from www.shutterstock.com

Having a garden provided preferred foods but also contributed to good mental health and wellbeing by creating a place where people who had faced considerable trauma could feel safe and happy.

How is gardening good for mental health?

Research has found spending time in nature can significantly improve mental health. Gardening offers a way to be in nature that is both productive and relaxing. Like all forms of exercise, it is also a source of “happy hormones” (serotonin and dopamine).

Read more: Why a walk in the woods really does help your body and your soul

Gardening has been shown to provide clear mental health benefits for people from refugee backgrounds. Everyday activities such as gardening offer meaningful experiences and a way to reconnect with positive memories of home that can help to make a refugee’s new country feel more like home.

Participants spoke of how gardening made them happy because it helped them re-imagine their homeland, families and culture.

Feeling at home in unfamiliar surroundings is important for people who have experienced ongoing uncertainty. One man spoke about how his garden in a rental property was not only a source of food but also a way to recreate a familiar place:

the plants, fruit and vegetables we grow in our garden, it’s like we’re eating food in Burma.

How gardening can improve the mental health of refugees Making unfamiliar surroundings seem like home is important for people who have experienced ongoing uncertainty. Author provided

Participants in this study spoke of how gardens provided an income and a way to be independent, but also offered a means to feel happy and purposeful. One man said:

if I hadn’t been doing gardening it would be so bad. So I love my gardening. It helped a lot with my mental health and well-being.

Another man, after suffering a stroke and spending several months in hospital, longed to be back in his garden. He described how gardening was an essential part of his recovery:

it is therapy, yes. Also, for my left side I do exercise. I weeding slowly, good exercise […] when I come home from the hospital I go into my garden and I look around my garden, my feeling is good.

The foods we choose to eat have health impacts, but the physical act of growing our own food also has positive effects on our mental health.

Gardening is a way for people who have faced considerable trauma to feel safe and with nature, as well as re-establish their identity and reconnect with their culture. As summed up by one participant:

gardening is going to give happiness for a lifetime.

How gardening can improve the mental health of refugees Myanmar community leader exploring a local garden. Author provided

Authors: Mandy Hughes, Casual academic in Arts and Social Sciences, Southern Cross University

Read more http://theconversation.com/how-gardening-can-improve-the-mental-health-of-refugees-98700

Politics

Prime Minister - Cystic Fibrosis Specialist Unit

STRENGTHENING AUSTRALIA’S WORLD-CLASS HEALTH SYSTEM The Morrison Government will invest $65 million to establish the first dedicated Cystic Fibrosis Specialist Unit, offering world-class care for t...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Tasmanian Defence Innovation and Design Precinct

MORRISON GOVERNMENT DELIVERS ON DEFENCE INNOVATION PRECINCT FOR LAUNCESTON The Morrison Government will invest $30 million in Phase 1 of the Tasmanian Defence Innovation and Design Precinct at th...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

Alan Jones interview with Scott Morrison

Bill Shorten’s big new taxes; our strong Budget for a strong economy; supporting essential services; Murray Darling Basin; ALAN JONES: Prime Minister, good morning. PRIME MINISTER: Good morning A...

Alan Jones - avatar Alan Jones

Business News

How to Become a Farmer That Makes Serious Profits in 5 Steps

A career in farming can be incredibly lucrative, if you have the right tools and know-how. Here's how to become a farmer that makes big profits in 5 steps.   Australia's farm industry makes up abo...

News Company - avatar News Company

5 signs you need to update your office furniture

Sometimes it is obvious that you need to update your workplace furniture. It may be physically broken, like an office chair that has lost its ability to be adjusted up and down. Or perhaps the desks...

Belinda Lyone, General Manager of COS - avatar Belinda Lyone, General Manager of COS

Independent online mortgage marketplace HashChing

MORTGAGE MARKETPLACE LAUNCHES CONVEYANCING SERVICES TO MAKE HOME LOAN PROCESS CHEAP AND FAST New legal partnership gives borrowers easy, online access to high quality solicitors at a fixed price  ...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

Travel

Things to Consider Before Emigrating to Australia

Moving abroad is often a big and an overwhelming decision that can hugely change your life and your future. Therefore, it is important to spend some time considering where you want to move to and rese...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Majestic City of Innsbruck

Innsbruck is the capital city of Tyrol and is the fifth largest city in Austria. It is located in western Austria between the high mountains of Karwendel Alps in the north and Patscherkofel in t...

Nico Hoffmann - avatar Nico Hoffmann

Bedsonline hosts Australian events to celebrate new brand launch

SYDNEY, April 15, 2019 Bedsonline(https://www.bedsonline.com/home/en-na), the leading global provider of accommodation and complementary travel products exclusively for travel agents, has hosted a ser...

Bedsonline - avatar Bedsonline

ShowPo