Gardening is a great activity for relaxation, but there are also therapeutic benefits to gardening. Gardening has been shown to have positive effects on physical and mental health issues such as anxiety, exhaustion, depression, sleep disorders, and back pain.
Gardening enthusiasts frequently claim that it is therapy, and you might be surprised to learn how accurate they are. However, gardening has therapeutic advantages that go beyond just enhancing physical health and producing wholesome foods. Along the garden path, mental and emotional wellbeing receives welcome boosts from relaxation and stress reduction to formal therapist-directed programs
The history of therapeutic gardening in the U.S.
The therapeutic advantages of gardening have a long history in theUnited States. Dr. Benjamin Rush, a well-known physician and signer of the Declaration of Independence, noted in the late 1700s that digging in gardens and being in a garden setting were important aspects in the treatment of patients with mental illness. As a result, there is growing interest in therapeutic landscapes and the idea of gardening as therapy.
In 1972, as a part of Kansas State University's mental health department, the first horticulture treatment curriculum in the United States was created, some 200 years after the discipline's inception.
Since then, therapeutic horticulture and healing gardens have grown in popularity in a variety of American locations, including hospitals, schools, and prison sites.
These sensory-focused, plant-dominated gardens are full of scent, colour, and texture and can be used actively or passively. In either case, visitors gain therapeutic advantages such as decreased worry and stress and elevated hope.
Suggested Reading: Psychology today has published 10 mental health benefits of gardening.
The therapeutic value of gardening
Even the simplest of interactions with nature, such as looking at trees or going to gardens, can be extremely calming. It has been demonstrated that post-surgical hospital patients who looked out their hospital windows at trees recovered more quickly than comparable patients who looked at walls. In addition to shorter hospital stays, patients who saw trees experienced fewer problems, used fewer painkillers, and received fewer unfavourable chart notes from medical personnel.
One study found that viewing a garden from a balcony may lift participants' spirits, whether they were depressed or not. The garden itself had a greater impact, though, as did being there and relaxing there. Participants reported feeling less depressed, as well as increases in their mood, sleep, and focus, as well as more serenity and optimism. Additionally, studies have shown that spending time in gardens might lessen the agitation and hostility associated with dementia and Alzheimer's disease, as well as the requirement for "as-needed" drugs.
Another suggested Reading: Gardening for health : a regular dose of gardening – PMC - NCBI
Positive Effects of Plant Care
Seeing green plants indoors has the same mood-lifting and health-promoting effects as seeing them outdoors. However, the advantages of taking care of a living plant, even a single houseplant, go beyond environmental concerns. According to studies, taking care of a plant is especially beneficial for those who are dealing with difficult personal situations that are beyond their control and have a detrimental impact on their physical and mental health.
In one study, senior residents of assisted living facilities were assigned responsibility for a plant and given a four-week seminar on indoor plant maintenance. The indoor gardeners considerably outrated their own levels of health, happiness, and quality of life higher than non-gardening dwellers did. Additionally, staff members saw that the gardeners needed less supervision, were more alert and sociable, and accepted more responsibility for their decisions. 6 Also proven to lessen agitation, enhance sleep, and increase consciousness in dementia sufferers is indoor gardening. The well-being of a plant's keeper is enhanced by feeling wanted and in charge.
Read what Texas Today has published: The positive effects of gardening on mental health.
The therapeutic effects of gardening, farming, and community
Gardeners frequently mention decreases in stress, tension, and anxiety when ranking the benefits of gardening. Research demonstrates that this is not just a feeling.
In one study, participants were given a psychologically demanding task to complete, and the amount of cortisol—a hormone the body generates in response to stress—was then assessed. Following were periods spent reading or gardening. After these activities, both groups showed decreased cortisol levels, but the gardening group had a considerably lower level, indicating greater physical relief from acute stress. Additionally, many noted that their moods had improved more.
Community gardens have a lot of potential as useful add-ons to therapy for those with PTSD, addiction issues, and even drug and alcohol-dependent adolescents and adults who are dealing with the everyday rigours of urban life.
Gardening and food production, when done cooperatively, produce amazing results. These include enhancements in self-esteem, teamwork, social interaction, planning, problem solving, and coping skills, as well as a passion for community and gardening that may last a lifetime.
Patients with severe depression experienced significant reductions in depression and cognitive impairment after participating in a therapeutic communal gardening programme for three months. Three months after the program's conclusion, such conclusions were still valid. Children in a juvenile detention facility who took part in a gardening programme improved their ability to control their emotions and behaviours and left with much higher assessments of themselves. Most of them also said they planned to keep gardening following their visit.
Gardens and gardening can contribute to bringing calm and healing to lives, whether you spend your time in the garden enjoying the fruits of other people's labours or getting your hands dirty with a spade and a hoe.