Being in nature is known, in and of itself, to have a healing effect on the mind and emotions. Gardening as a form of therapy has increasingly been used as an approach to addiction and mental health treatment. Healing gardens are often a part of addiction treatment centers, long term care facilities and other healthcare settings.
Gardening can help to lower stress, boost self-confidence, build teamwork, and foster perseverance. The rewards are both immediate and long term as one sees the plants and garden develop and change with the seasons. This can be as simple as having some potted herbs or plants in your home; becoming part of a community garden; or cultivating your own vegetable or flower garden on your roof if allowed or at your home.
To learn more about gardening and horticultural therapy visit the American Horticultural Therapy Association.
Clatworthy J, Hinds J, M. Camic P. Gardening as a mental health intervention: a review. Mental Health Review Journal. 2013 Nov 29;18(4):214-25. Ten papers were reviewed. All reported positive effects of gardening as a mental health intervention, including reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. Participants described a range of benefits across emotional, social, vocational, physical and spiritual aspects of life.
Mcsweeney J, Rainham D, Johnson SA, et al. Indoor nature exposure (INE): a health-promotion framework. Health Promot Int. 2015 Mar;30(1):126-39.
Working outside in nature has significant positive mental and physical health benefits. Although nature in indoor spaces is rarely considered a health-promoting tool, it may be an effective way to increase our relationship with nature in an urban setting. This paper summarizes the current evidence on indoor gardening, showing that it too can be a health-promoting tool.