Gaining Wellness Through Gardening
Gardening can be excellent therapy. Often, instead of tiring you out, gardening can leave you feeling exhilarated from the effort and the creativity involved.
For people recovering from illness or trauma, gardening can provide a source of relaxation and a sense of purpose. Seeing hard work grow and blossom instills a deep sense of accomplishment and self esteem. No matter who you are, you can benefit from the therapeutic effects of gardening. Read on to learn more.
Gardening can be enjoyed alone, but it is also an excellent opportunity to socialize. People who have experienced trauma such as surviving a natural or man-made disaster, being exposed to or participating in acts of war, being raped or attacked or being a victim of abuse can benefit from the side-by-side socializing offered by gardening.
It is an opportunity to work and spend time with others constructively without necessarily having to be closely engaged. Gardening provides an opportunity to gently work one’s way back into society after trauma. Conversely, in a prison population gardening can also benefit aggressors by helping them learn how to nurture and care for other living things while providing healthful foods for the good of the prison community.
For people with physical and mental disabilities, gardening offers a treasure trove of opportunity to actively participate in a meaningful and worthwhile activity that provides physical and mental stimulation.
The key to providing a great gardening experience for people with disabilities is adaptation. Gardening can be made physically accessible in a number of ways. For people who use wheelchairs or have problems with stooping and bending, raised beds, boxes, barrels and other containers provide excellent accessible garden opportunities.
Older people and children do very well with tabletop or windowsill gardening in which small planters are placed in a sunny window or on a tabletop near a window or with artificial lighting. House plants and some herbs can be used to make this an ongoing project.
Alternately, for a large garden tasks can be separated and delegated so that people who are able to start seeds and care for seedlings take on the task of tabletop and windowsill gardening, and people who are able to garden outdoors transfer the resulting seedling to an outside garden.
Garden layout can be used as a form of therapy for people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. The use of pathways that make course of action clear can be very useful in helping people with dementia focus and organize their thoughts.
This helps them to establish a sense of purpose and work in a productive way that helps boost self esteem and self worth. When using gardening as therapy for people with dementia and other psychological disorders, it’s important to work closely with the person’s therapist for guidance. In all layout choices, remember to keep safety first and provide non-slip surfaces, easy access and safe ramps where applicable.
In practical matters, when using gardening for therapy it’s important to choose proper adaptive tools for each person participating. This will make gardening easier and more satisfying.
For example, sticky sports gloves that make it easier for participants to keep hold of tools can be very useful. Built up tool handles can help people with limited gripping ability use tools effectively. Handles can be built up with foam insulation tubing, tape or in some cases by simply slipping on a bicycle handlebar grip.
Because gardening for therapy is intended to be enjoyable, it’s a good idea to automate as many garden processes as possible. Installing drip hoses all around the garden helps make watering easy. Of course a timed watering system is excellent, too.
Whether you are simply seeking stress relief for yourself and your family or seeking to help yourself, a loved one or a therapy group gain wellness, gardening is an excellent choice. Follow the guidelines presented here to create an excellent therapy garden.