Garden Therapy

Are you wanting to engage your mind, your body, your spirit and willing to get your hands dirty? Read on to see how garden therapy or nature therapy may be something you can add to your daily routine.

Gardening can reduce stress and manage depression. It can also help you cope with your emotions, provide an outlet for unused energy, and produces healthy eating. All off these positive effects while getting exercise for your mind, body and spirit.

Down with the Dirt – Therapy in the Garden

Having your own garden means there is a lot of work involved. However, do we take the time to really look at the other benefits? There is so much more than just the benefit of having fresh produce on our dinner tables. Horticultural Therapy is the term meaning gardening for therapeutic benefits. It can involve anything from a short walk through a park to observe the plants and flowers, to hours in the dirt planting or harvesting. Whether you enjoy the multitude of colours in the flower beds or the smell of fresh herbs – any form of gardening an be the right form for you to get down with the dirt.

Senses

Gardening can also heighten all of your senses as they recharge and regroup. Some of us will really enjoy listening to the birds. Others will love feeling the wind on their face as they work. Some will observe the colours and beauty that surrounds them. Others will take in the smells and fragrances of the new growth. Then there are those that thoroughly enjoy getting the dirt under their nails to show their hard work. Let’s also not forget the amazing taste of the freshly picked herbs added to your dinner plate. Gardening really does engage your whole mind, body and spirit.

Labor or Freedom

Are you someone who looks at a pair of gardening gloves and sees work? Or do you take a deep cleansing breath, grab your gardening gloves and march out to the dirt with a bounce in your step ready to take on whatever task is required. Gardening is not for everyone – but it can surely provide health benefits and enjoyment for those that look at the dirt, the growth and the products as freedom.

Space

Whether you live way out in the country and you have acres of property that you can work in, or you live in a high-rise apartment with an indoor garden – either can enjoy the therapy of gardening. If you happen to have the large space of land to create your new garden or you have a well established garden already, you will need some basic tools to work with. This is also the case for container gardening, which can take place on the patio or balcony of a high-rise building. Not every type of plant can grow in a small space, however there is a wide variety of items which can be grown in smaller containers.

Here is a list of some of the plants that will do well in container gardening:

  • herbs
  • tomatoes
  • lettuce
  • carrots
  • strawberries (excellent in a hanging basket)
  • peppers
  • radishes

Benefits of Gardening

Responsibility

Did you have a small section of a garden or a flower bed that you were given as a small child that you were able to tend to? Did it take you some time to learn that if you were not attentive there would be lots of growth when you returned – but most of it would be unwanted weeds? Having the chance to care for plants and flowers gives us a way to learn to respect the plant life. We gain appreciation of the work that has gone into all of the produce the we eat. It can also give is a new appreciation of nature and the wonder of it.

Nurturing

Gardening allows us to nurture and tend to a living and growing plant. No matter what your age or gender, everyone feels good when they can nature something. It is guaranteed to boost self esteem.

Healthy Connection

Gardening can keep us rooted in a positive way. Sometimes we can begin to feel that we are the centre of it all. Being surrounded by new growth as well as nature can help us stay connected to the greater world and not be so self absorbed.

Relax and Let Go

There are many of us who live very busy lives. Various aspects of our lives pull us here and there. Eventually we all require a break to relax and let go. There has yet to be a plant that has talked-back, or a flower that has given a negative comment about your new idea or proposal at work. Plants offer us no emotions or conflict. Doesn’t that sound refreshing? (Now the weeds may be a different story if you have not tended to your garden for some time!)

Being One with Nature

Being outdoors and working in the dirt is great exercise and provides a great opportunity for mental health and wellness. It is a good reminder that what is good for our bodies is also very good for our souls and our minds. It is important that we recognize the need for healthy food to eat for our bodies but that we are giving our minds the exercise it needs to stay healthy as well.

Living in the Present

Listen, smell, touch and see – the next time that you are in your garden or walking past a neighbours garden, take the time to stop and take in the present. Usually we are too busy planning for the future. This can cause us to miss the here and now. Research has proven that those of us who spend time in nature and observing the growth of plants and flowers are more apt to enjoy living in the present. Therefore we carry less burdens from the past and we worry less about the tomorrows.

Last but not Least

Anyone can garden and reap the benefits of it. Whether young or old, big or small – we can all achieve results from planting and harvesting. It is a simple activity with great results for the mind, the body and the soul. Grab your gardening gloves and go play in the dirt!

 

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