The Alternative: Gardening or Horticulture Therapy

May 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm Leave a comment

Experts say gardening may help reduce stress and enhance well being. Gardening, or simply being in a garden, can be a retreat, a haven and a source of comfort and renewal. It can help whether you are dealing with the stress of everyday life, a traumatic event or illness.

The latest research on the use of gardens and gardening as therapy has been so positive that a new branch of therapy has emerged. Horticultural therapy involves a trained therapist who works with people on gardening-related activities to achieve specific treatment goals.

How gardens can heal
Whether you tend to your own garden or greenhouse or take advantage of a horticultural therapist, you can reap the benefits of gardening health, which may help:

  • Ease stress. Simply viewing a garden or another natural vista can quickly reduce blood pressure and pulse rate. Feelings of anxiety and anger can also be relieved in the garden. Rigorous chopping and pruning can relieve pent-up anger and nervous tension.
  • Improve mood. The soothing colors, textures and smell of plants can have an uplifting effect on the mind and spirit.
  • Speed recovery from illness. Several studies suggest that hospital patients who either had access to scenic views or gardens or had plants and flowers in their rooms recovered from surgery more quickly and had less pain and anxiety than those without such access.
  • Increase sense of control. For people who find themselves restricted by a disability, even the simplest gardening experience, such as growing a potted plant from a cutting, can give a feeling of control.
  • Promote exercise. Potting or planting seeds can gently exercise aging or arthritic joints. Weeding or raking can be an aerobic workout and a good calorie burner and stress reducer.

If you don’t have much of a garden, start with tending a few pots. If that goes well, you may find the desire and energy to make your own garden or greenhouse. Then the next time you are feeling a little down, you can simply head out into your very own therapy room. Restoring a garden can help restore you, too.

Source: myOptumHealth.com

Entry filed under: Alternative, Managing your health, To Your Health.

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