Horticultural Therapy: The Psychological Benefits Of Gardening

Our primate ancestors only sought refuge in caves (hence the title cavemen) but they really lived outdoors and were one with nature. However, the pace of modern life is sedentary and it ties us to one place.

Getting out and about is highly preferable and gardening is the safest way to do so. Apart from physical exercise, being surrounded by greenery all day is considered a form of psychotherapy.

Getting started

The biggest obstacle to taking up gardening is the constant search for excuses. Some people will say that they don’t have a backyard, even though they have a large balcony, ideal for a vertical garden.

Others will claim that the yard behind their house is simply too small for a garden. There are not mini gardens that you don’t require a large plot of land to cultivate.

Finally, there are community lots where you can rent a piece of land and start gardening. Other renters will help you get started even if you don’t know the first about gardening.

Green Socializing

This brings us to the next topic and that is socializing. This is where gardening beats all other hobbies, as it can be solo, family, or group activity; the choice is yours. This gives therapists free rain, as an introvert can garden on their own.

On the other hand, an outgoing person will enjoy spending time with laid-back folks chatting about plants. Apart from getting your friends interested in gardening, gardening is a great opportunity to meet new people.

The aforementioned community lots are places where green thumbs usually hang out but you can reach out to gardeners worldwide using specialized forums and social media groups and profiles. This makes gardening the perfect hobby for people who feel lonely most of the time.

Unattainable Perfectionism

If you are a perfectionist, then you have been disappointed more than once already. Perfection is unattainable in this life but if you are still having trouble grasping this metaphysical concept, then we suggest you take up gardening,

There are so many things that can go wrong with your garden, from a rodent infestation to a long drought. All the plans you had for the garden could be swept away (literally) in a matter of minutes if a hurricane hit your area.

If you are frustrated all the time at work because you are constantly behind schedule, then gardening is the ideal pacifier. Gardening is the best antidote for perfectionism, as you constantly adjust to factors outside of your control, making you accept “less than perfect” solutions.

Surrounded by Greenery

The color green is proven to help your eyes rest. If you use a computer a lot, then scientists and optometrists recommend you look at an object 20 meters away for seconds every 20 minutes (the 20-20-20 rule).

Unfortunately, city dwellers are surrounded by grey all the time and they see green only in parks. However, people who take up gardening as a hobby are going to bathe in this soothing color. As a result, their eyesight will improve and they will feel more relaxed.

Moreover, recent studies have shown that being surrounded by greenery helps recover from surgery faster, reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and it helps manage stress better. You get to reap all of these benefits just by stepping through the back door of your house!

Gearing up for Gardening

Our argument that there is no room for perfectionists in gardening might not be entirely true. Namely, there is one factor you can control and should control: gardening tools – garden hose, gloves, shears etc. In this sense, all garden accessories should be as top-quality and versatile as possible.

For instance, a retractable hose reel should be part of the watering basics, while a weeder tool is easier to use than a trowel or bare hands. From pruners, across the fertilizer, all the way to a soft knee mat, there are thousands of garden accessories you should meticulously acquire over time.

The here and now

You needn’t spend money on yoga classes if you want to practice mindfulness. Have you noticed how yoga instructors like to take their students to the park to do yoga? Well, you can proudly say already have where to place a yoga mat: in the center of the garden.

The end goal of yoga is to be able to focus on the here and now. What better way to achieve this Zen state of mind than by working out in nature. The fact that you have nurtured all the trees and flowers surrounding you is only a bonus to helping you unwind while meditating.

A Solid Workout

Apart from unwinding, yoga has a physical element to it. This is not without a good reason, as physical activity helps improve mental health. The more you move about, as when watering the garden, the happier you feel and your level of anxiety goes down.

In fact, spending an entire day gardening is the same as working out in the gym. What is more, you have to tend to the garden regularly, so there is a good chance you’ll get in shape through gardening. Even better, gardening is injury-free, as you cannot dangerously increment weight like in the gym.

Finally, the need to nurture the garden gives you a sense of meaning that acts as a deterrent for all sorts of mental problems.

A Healthier Diet

You are what you eat. This sentence is painfully true, as a person who stuffs himself/herself with junk food all the time cannot feel good on the inside. However, growing an organic vegetable garden has the power to overturn your diet.

Even if you are not too keen on dieting right, the very fact that you can try a pepper that you have nurtured ever since it was just a seed, makes you want to taste it.

After you have eaten a couple of tomatoes and cucumbers, you will have become addicted to healthy food. Also, the food grown in a garden is at the same time the food used depression. Some of these vegetables include broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato, peppers, tomato, etc.

The Freedom of Choice

You don’t have to live in a dictatorship to chronically lack the freedom of choice. The droning daily routine is enough to kill anyone’s mood. Luckily, you are your own boss in the garden, as you get to grow what you like. If you come across a seed you like, buy it and try to grow it in your garden even if other people say you can’t.

However, you should’ start big, as simple plants, such as radish or lettuce are excellent experimental crops. Once these plants are a success, you will only go from strength to strength, boosting your self-esteem in the process.

The way you see yourself

We will go as far as to claim that gardening can change a person. Namely, the more crops and plants turn out to be a success, the more confidence you will gain over time. Although gardening isn’t a straightforward hobby, it is rewarding in the sense that you will feel a sense of accomplishment.

Once you grow a verdant and fragrant garden, you will have both a physical and mental refuge from all the hardships of life.

As you have seen from the points made above, horticultural therapy is perfect for dealing with depression and anxiety. Moreover, starting a garden also serves as prevention for developing mental health issues.