The study of gardening’s health benefits dates to the 1800s when Declaration of Independence co-signor and psychiatrist Benjamin Rush began to document that gardening helped his patients with mental illness. Recently, more people are discovering that a simple garden can relieve anxiety, reduce stress, and help to recover from physical ailments.
Horticulture therapy is a practice that harnesses the therapeutic benefits of gardening to aid the mental and physical recovery of patients. Therapists individualize this type of gardening, focusing on helping the patient to release anger and develop positive relationships. Gardening can be personal or social, as the therapist and the patient work together to meet recovery goals. A therapy garden is designed to help patients to relieve tension and to heal.
Gardening for fun is also therapeutic. Studies have shown that taking part in gardening activities give the same stress-relieving benefits. Gardening also reduces cortisol, a hormone connected to stress responses in the body. According to the Journal for Therapeutic Horticulture, a 2011 study found that gardening helped children see themselves in a more positive light. Bacteria in soil may help increase serotonin production in the brain, improving depression, according to a 2007 study in the journal Neuroscience.
In addition, gardening is a beneficial form of physical and mental exercise. Lifting, digging, and planting helps to work out body muscles. Planning the garden stimulates the mind. There are numerous decisions ranging from the layout to which plants to use. Planting a container garden is a one way to start soothing the senses with a little garden therapy. Use a container, tools, soil, seeds, or plants to start your miniature garden.
If you’d like some guidance, classes or community gardens are ways to jump-start gardening in a social atmosphere. If you prefer to go it alone, planning and planting a small, flower bed may give you the tranquil benefits of gardening and the joy of bringing beauty to the world.