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October 2, 2010 at 12:00 PMComments: 1 Faves: 0

Gardening and Your Mental Health

By Helen More Blogs by This Author

There is much to be said about the healing properties of gardening. It’s hard to put your finger on it, exactly, but it has something to do with the way the soil feels and smells. It is a million little things, really, that sort of bunch together into a deep-seeded sense of peace and serenity, similar to the feeling of returning home after a long vacation.

It is that very staying power that prompted physicians to look into gardening as a means of soothing mental health issues. As gardeners and homeowners, we already know the joy found in tending to the garden. The peace and sense of belonging, as well as being needed, are what humans thrive on. We seek the comfort of performing the repetitive tasks that keep the garden strong and beautiful. And just as we need the garden, the garden needs us. The act of needing one another creates a bond that is both attractive and addictive.

Health Benefits of Gardening

The best way to describe “flower power” is in the continued discipline gardeners portray each time they visit the garden.

  • Exercise. The power of the garden energizes the individual and keeps him or her returning to see what the next delight might be as the foliage unfolds, flowers bloom, and vegetables appear. The appeal is such that gardeners simply do not want to stay away.
  • Fresh Air and Vitamin D. The fresh air helps clear the head and the warm sun is as therapeutic as it is delightful.
  • A Sense of Control.Taking responsibility for the garden is a good way to learn to take responsibility for self.
  • A Point of Pride. It also gives the gardener a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Garden Therapy

For these reasons, it’s no wonder that mental health institutions have begun introducing the art of gardening to their patients. According to one study, it was determined that there is an intrinsic relationship between gardening and hope. Indeed, even the act of planting a single solitary seed requires hope. While some may argue that institutionalized individuals often do not embrace the same reason to focus on hope as others might, according to studies conducted at the Montpellier Secure Recovery Service in Gloucester, it was evident that hope does exist. As members of the 12-room facility began clearing the land for a garden and planting seeds, it became evident that gardening did help promote better mental health.

Values cultivated in the garden include, but are not limited to:

  • Patients learn to care for others and for themselves
  • Democracy and equality
  • Honesty and responsibility
  • Responsibility and self help
  • Socialization and Solidarity

These same benefits can support every gardener, no matter what their situation. Working to beautify your land is incredibly rewarding, and offers a wonderful outlet for creativity. Consider trying it today!

Sources:

http://mental-health.families.com/blog/garden-your-way-to-peace

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2006/07/19/gardening-as-mental-health-treatment

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/5083742.stm

http://www.nursingtimes.net/nursing-practice-clinical-research/gardening-as-a-therapeutic-intervention-in-mental-health/1921374.article

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1 Comment

  • Great post. Gardening helps ground me (no pun intended :) ) like nothing else -- it brings me right into the present, in contact with the earth, creating and nurturing life. I wrote a piece about the mental health benefits of gardening last summer, and the topic is returning to mind now as I watch the Wisconsin winter days slowly lengthen. Almost time to start my tomato seeds!

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