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Therapeutic gardening, which is a combination of nature and experiential therapy, has existed for thousands of years. Horticulture therapy dates back to Socrates, but it didn’t become a scientific pursuit until the 18th century. That’s when Benjamin Rush, a psychiatrist and Declaration of Independence cosignatory, began documenting how gardening benefited his mentally ill patients.
However it has gained in popularity only recently, as an approach to addiction and mental health treatment. A lot of health care facilities, hospitals, addiction treatment centers and nursing homes have healing gardens on their premises.
Much of the science behind just how gardening affects the mind and brain still remains a mystery. What scientists do know is that gardening reduces stress and calms the nerves. It decreases cortisol, a hormone that plays a role in stress response.
The Benefits of Gardening
It has been scientifically proven that spending time in nature can promote total over wellness and be effective as a supplemental treatment for psychological disorders. Healing gardens are specifically designed to aid the improvement in overall health of individuals with different issues and disorders. Healing gardens can be a place of sanctuary, where individuals can enjoy a much needed distraction from the daily routine of rehab. It can also be a place for individuals to explore their spirituality and perhaps meditate.
There are many psychological, social, emotional, physical and spiritual benefits of a healing garden, including:
Effective Treatment for PTSD
Help in Alleviating Anxiety
Low Impact Exercise
Assistance in Social Interaction
Relief from Anger
Therapeutic Gardening and Addiction
Usually when an individual has a drug or alcohol addiction, they also have a co-occurring psychological disorder that contributes to their substance abuse problem. Such individuals require simultaneous treatment for both conditions, not merely the addiction. Healing gardens can play a crucial role in helping individuals improve their mental health.
Individuals who take up therapeutic gardening can get closer to nature, grow fresh fruits or vegetables for their use, grow and tend to flowers and interact with the birds and butterflies that are usually found in gardens. Gardening can also bring a sense of self worth and purpose to individuals in recovery.
The greatest benefit that therapeutic gardening can have on individuals in recovery is the potential long term impact on their lives. Apart from guiding the individual through rehab and into the path of recovery, gardening can be a lifelong hobby and a passion. It can give the individual something to do, something they enjoy doing, and keep them occupied in recovery.
Recovery is hard work but you don’t have to do it alone. Call Blueprints to find out how we can support your goals.