By Jennah Owda
Everybody copes differently. Whether it be through the art of dancing, singing, or writing, learning what helps heal your sadness in a healthy way is a step closer to mending your mental health. Horticulture, also known as the art of gardening, is a coping method many are not familiar with.
Therapeutic gardening traces back to the early 1900s when, according to Lucas Monroe’s journal “Horticulture Therapy Improves the Body, Mind and Spirit,” Dr. Benjamin Rush, who is known as the father of psychiatry, acknowledged the positive effects that gardening had on patients living in psychiatric asylums. Rush’s discovery still applies to our society, with therapeutic gardening being very popular in rehabilitation centers and nursing homes. If you are unsure of whether or not gardening is the right coping method for you, here are a few of the benefits horticulture therapy can provide.
Reduce Anxiety and Depression
Planting vegetables, herbs, and flowers are a great way to reduce your anxiety. While the act of planting itself may be calming for some, according to Affinity Health, Mycobacterium, which is a bacterium that can be found in plants, “triggers the release of serotonin, which lifts mood and reduces anxiety.” Along with the serotonin that is released is the scent of the plants. Like essential oils, the scent of a plant is beneficial to the amygdala, also known as the emotional center of your brain. The reduction in anxiety can help prevent you from becoming depressed as well.
Gives You a Purpose
Many times when we are feeling anxious or depressed, it is common for us to feel as though we lack a purpose. Gardening forms a responsibility. When you have plants, you are constantly making sure they are well nourished so that they can grow. This gives you something to look forward to but also a purpose and motivation to achieve more in the day. Not to mention, while healing, you are also giving back to the ecosystem.
Immune System Boost
When living with a mental illness, it can become difficult to leave the comfort of your bed. Planting is a great incentive to get you in touch with nature. If you are not ready to take that step yet, there are always indoor plants that can also boost your immune system. According to Eco Watch, plants can improve the air quality in your home by “removing 87% of the pollutants in the air,” and some plant species can help lower the change of “liver damage, kidney disease, and cancer.”
Therapeutic gardening does not have to be difficult and can be done from the comfort of your own home with indoor low-maintenance plants like a paddle plant. If you have yet found a coping mechanism that works for you, I encourage you to go out and buy an indoor plant or some planting seeds. It is time to put your mental health first, and what better way to do it than by giving more to the planet?