Gardening as a therapy?
While the sun is shining and the soil is soft enough to dig, it’s time to get the garden started. My favorite part of the garden is my tea garden. I love growing herbs for their flavor in herbal teas and for their properties as medicine, and I LOVE being outside and playing in the dirt! It’s good for the soul and for my mental health.
I use gardening as a therapy. I find gardening meditative, and for me serves as a place of quiet contemplation. There’s something about gardening that makes me feel at peace. As I plant and tend to my garden, I feel connected to the earth, to life, and most of all, connected to myself.
Gardening allows me to throw off the stress that gets heaped on us every day, and it revitalizes me for the rest of the day ahead. I’ve found that as I garden, my mind becomes clearer, and I become more aware of myself and my surroundings. It’s a great way to come back to myself in a world where people are constantly telling us what we should be doing and how we should look, sound, or feel.
Even science backs up the idea of gardening as a therapy. Studies have found that therapists that use horticultural therapy support recovery and improve mood, resulting in shorter stays in mental health facilities and hospitals. Horticultural therapy is rooted in the idea that interacting with plants can bring about well-being, whether it’s tending a garden or just having plants in your home.
Studies also show that nature stimulates the healing process. People recovering from surgery can get better faster if trees are visible from their hospital windows. They also tend to take fewer painkillers, and nurses comment more positively from charts about those patients who can see trees from their hospital beds.
So, if you’re struggling with feeling stressed or for ways to connect with nature, starting a garden can be an easy way to get going. And remember, it doesn’t have to be an HGTV-worthy garden, it can simply be growing herbs in a few pots or just a small patch of yard.
In fact, gardening as a therapy can be as simple as caring for a plant in your home. It’s been proven that even a single houseplant, can greatly improve your physical and emotional well-being. Studies have shown that people who care for plants–even under stressful circumstances–have lower blood pressure, better sleep patterns, and more positive moods than do people who don’t have houseplants.
No time for a full scale garden?
How about a small-scale windowsill herb garden? This is a great option if you want to grow your own herbs, but don’t have space where you live or the time to tend a plot. With an indoor herb garden, you can still reap all the health benefits of gardening as a therapy. In fact, all it takes is a few small pots, some soil, and a few seeds. The windowsill herb garden offers all of these benefits without the extra work or space required by larger gardens.
Favorite Herbs for the Beginner Gardener
There are many kinds of herbs that can be grown easily at home, and they’re all good for your health! Some herbs can help you relax; others can help you focus; while still others can help you sleep better or just smell nice (which is important!). Here are some of my favorites along with a few tips to get you started:
- Mint is a prolific plant that can take over an entire bed if you let it. Plant mint in a container or raised bed in full sun to partial shade. It does best in moist soil and prefers to be watered often with cool water. If you have room for only one mint plant, I recommend spearmint—it has high menthol content making it great for cooking and medicine (especially throat lozenges). Peppermint is great for digestive issues and has been used medicinally since ancient times.
- Lemon Balm is a member of the mint family (along with peppermint and spearmint), which makes it easy to grow and fun to use in cooking. Lemon balm is a lovely addition to desserts, jams and sauces. Its calming properties make it a great herb to use with children—you can add it to their bathwater, tea or food without worry. The volatile oils have mild sedative effects on the nervous system, which helps reduce stress and improve sleep quality. Plus, lemon balm works well as an antiviral agent.
- Rosemary is a fragrant, pine-scented herb that can be used in many dishes. The plant’s medicinal benefits are also extensive. It is easy to care for, making it an ideal addition to your backyard garden.
- While chamomile is normally classified as an annual, it self-seeds at such a rapid pace that it does the re-planting for your next growing season. The result is a beautiful abundance of these flowers. Chamomile flowers best in the full sun to partial shade. However, if you are growing chamomile in a hot climate, you might want to lean towards partial shade, as too much sun could accidentally fry your flowers.
- Sage: Sage tea is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. It may promote skin, oral, and brain health, as well as decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, among other benefits.
- Calendula has many health benefits and is packed with antioxidants that neutralize the harmful effects of oxidative stress in your body. Additionally, it boasts anti-inflammatory compounds, that can help alleviate the symptoms of chronic inflammation.
If you want to learn more about how to grow and use medicinal herbs for medicinal tea, check out my this article: Medicinal Herbs for Tea: Tips for Growing Your Own Amazing Garden
Do you use gardening as a therapy? I hope this inspires you to try growing your own herbs. I know how rewarding in can be to harvest fresh herbs when they are needed, whether it’s from your windowsill, potted plants on your balcony, or a section of your yard. Good luck, live healthy, and grow an abundance of herbs!
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