Patients Turn to Gardening to Improve Their Sense of Self

October 19, 2012 | British Columbia

People dealing with anxiety, mental illnesses or addictions can handle their problems in different ways, whether it's through group sessions, one-on-one counseling, art therapy or volunteering around the community. Another method that's being used in Victoria, BC is gardening. Children, adults and the elderly turn to the dirt in their backyards to cope with mental illness, planting beans, lettuce, cucumbers and other legumes to benefit not only their diets but also their overall personal well-being.

Centres Embrace Gardening Therapy
Prison homes, retirement facilities, hospitals and rehabilitation centres are all embracing this innovative form of therapy, helping individuals cope with depression, post traumatic stress disorder or anxiety issues. There's even an organization that promotes this healing method - the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association. Using gardening as a form of healing can reduce stress and relieve nerves in the body, as well as decrease levels of particular hormones that contribute to the body's stress responses.

Similar to journaling or exercise, this therapeutic hobby is another way for people living with mental health disorders to cope. Ranging from 20-year-olds to seniors, the ages of those interested in gardening therapy varies across the board.

Teaching Values
One of the benefits of gardening therapy is that it teaches people the importance of committing to an activity for a long period of time. As plants are living things, a garden shows people the value of caregiving and the rewards of watching something they have nurtured for months grow into a blossoming flower or a large, ripe vegetable or fruit.

Develop Self-Respect
Not only does this process show participants the steps of the caregiving process, but it also might help them understand how to treat themselves better, whether by leading a healthier lifestyle or allowing themselves to depend on others when they need extra support. Just as the elements of the garden need another to water them, feed them and place them in the right environment to grow, those suffering with addictions cannot fight all of their battles alone.

Students who are interested in a career as an Addictions and Community Services Worker can enroll at CDI College. For more information on this program and other healthcare courses, fill out the form on the right.

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