Therapeutic Gardening As Part Of Self-Care

Spending time outdoors can be a blessing to your wellbeing. Working on mental health gardening projects can help. Find out how therapeutic gardening benefits your mental health.

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Learn what are the benefits of gardening

More people are starting to head outside for fresh air and sunshine this season. You’re hoping to go back to nature and cure the stress and anxiety felt during these tough times.

You’re not too far from the truth in believing this. In fact, there are gardening and mental health statistics that prove there’s a connection between the two.

A survey on the topic of the mental health benefits from gardening, showed 25% of people with disabilities listed gardening as a hobby. 

Of the people surveyed, 66% of the respondents owned a garden. A higher percentage (87%) of people said they had access to a garden and agreed it helped their mental state. 

Therapeutic gardens are plant-dominated environments that are designed with the purpose to simplify the interaction with healing elements in nature, according to the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA).

As noted on the AHTA website, the basic features of this type of garden can include “wide and gently accessible entrances and paths, raised planting beds and containers, and a sensory-oriented plant selection focused on color, texture, and fragrances.”

What Are The Benefits Of Gardening?

Setting up a green area at home can help with answering what are the benefits of gardening. Simply by creating that space around your home forces you to feel hopeful and work towards a goal. 

Gardening creates happiness and reduces your stress as well as anxiety. Hands-on activities like gardening force your mind to think about different tasks. 

When caring for a plant, you’re giving yourself a personal project that will require daily nourishment and tending. 

As you begin this green project, you’ll notice a sense of excitement and hope for what the future of the plant will be. 

You also build confidence as you continue to care for the plant, and are self-aware of your abilities to do so. 

With time, you might even learn a thing or two about the plant and its needs. Armed with knowledge, you become better at providing the necessary care.

When gardening for health and wellbeing, you’re also giving yourself the opportunity to trust a process. Understanding the need for patience and understanding will spill out into your everyday interactions with others. 

This is one of the reasons why I shared how to start a family garden with kids. There are many reasons why you’d want to create an outdoor space to garden. 

If you’ve ever wondered what gardening does to the brain, then you’re in luck. Other mental health reasons for creating a family garden according to WebMD include:

  • Provides exercise;
  • Can encourage social bonds;
  • Improves mood;
  • Boosts self-esteem; and
  • Improves your attention span

Gardening — much like exercising — allows you to stay active and gets you moving. It can encourage social bonds with others because you get out more. 

With being outdoors, you’re more likely to run into others in your neighborhood. There are also community gardens that allow you to get to know others around you while gardening. 

When you start a garden, you’ll notice a difference in your mood, and how you treat others and yourself. 

Inturn, this boosts your self-esteem and helps you work on your gardening project. 

The more you keep your mind busy, the better your mind will react to things. This is how you improve your attention span, through repetition and staying active. 

Other benefits to creating a garden at home include reducing time on technology and encouraging healthy eating.

As time goes on, you’ll notice you’re less likely to reach for an electronic device. The happiness you’ve found in tending to your plant will trigger you to want to grow others. 

Slowly, you’ll begin planting seeds of things you eat on a daily basis. From fruits and vegetables to legumes and herbs.

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Effects of gardening on mental health.

Therapeutic Gardening Tips For The Home

For years, hospitals have used green areas to boost patient’s moods. It’s no surprise to see this can help people at home, too. 

Starting a garden takes planning and understanding. Learning as you go is possible, and recommended as you discover mistakes along the way.

The beauty of gardening is that you can throw out perfection, and work on trying different things to help your plant survive.

Although there are pros to therapeutic gardening, there are also negative effects as well. Too much exposure to sunlight can cause dehydration and overheat.

There’s the stress of insects and animals taking over your garden. Because gardening requires dedication in general, it’s important to plan ahead for these situations. 

Doing your research prior to starting a garden will come in handy. 

There are a number of illnesses and injuries that can result from gardening, as noted by WedMD. These are:

  • Skin irritation and breathing problems due to poison ivy;
  • Tetanus and sepsis infections from dirt entering cuts;
  • Back pain; and
  • Diseases from insects and animals

Situations like those listed above can be prevented by wearing gardening gloves, regularly cleaning your tools, stretching before and after gardening, and practicing good hygiene after gardening. 

You can try to create an indoor garden to help combat some of the issues that are presented when gardening outdoors. 

As noted in the Epic Gardening website, there are various stages to plant growth. Among them is the germination phase. 

Water and warmth are essential to this stage in the plant’s life cycle. There are three occurrences that will inhibit germination:

  1. Planting seeds too deep into the soil;
  2. Poor quality seeds; and
  3. Too much or too little water

You can learn a lot from your indoor plants by watching the health of their leaves. If the leaves are turning yellow, then you’ll need to focus on less water and more nutrients. 

Giving your plant some nutrients and decreasing the amount of times you water it can help. Plant nutrients include plant food. 

Indoor plant food can be purchased online or in-store.

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How to make gardening part of your self-care routine.

Create A Self-Care Gardening Habit

Learning how to add a seasonal activity as part of your everyday tasks can be a challenge. To help build a love for plants, organic farming consultant Briget Bueche recommends you do the following:

  1. Start with what you love;
  2. Look for a good foundation; and
  3. Make use of an app

When you plant the foods you already eat, this can help encourage you to continue caring for your plants. “[This] will make the product more rewarding,” noted Bueche. 

You can start with plants that are easy for beginners to grow, such as cilantro or basil. 

Don’t be afraid to research the food you’ll be planting. This will help you understand which indoor conditions and type of soil will help your plant grow. 

Local plant nurseries and shops can help answer any questions you may have. 

Using technology to help care for your plant is a great way to ensure that you properly create your self-care gardening habit. Setting an alarm for when to tend to your plant is key.

The Psychology Today website recommends slowly creating a garden at home as part of therapeutic gardening. You can start by using a container to plan your seed.

Not only do you need to know your your soil and your plant, but you’ll need to pay attention to its needs. The more time you spend caring for your green space, the better you’ll understand what it needs on a daily basis.

5 Comments

  1. Now that my kids are older, my garden is my new children. It is so therapeutic to see veggies growing from a seed.

  2. When we move, I’m absolutely going to start gardening. There is something about being outdoors and doing something productive that changes my mood for the better.

  3. I think it’s wonderful having a garden. I have a small one myself. I love checking on it often. It really can be therapeutic.

  4. I completely agree with this! This summer we are devoting a lot of time to creating a beautiful flower garden in our backyard.

  5. I absolutely love gardening. It calms me and gives me a purpose. There’s nothing I like more than planting flowers, especially at this time of year.

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