Gardeners already know how great this activity is for mental health. It’s relaxing, a good way to cope with stress, allows you to connect with nature, and provides a quiet time to reflect or not have to think at all. There is now evidence that gardening and being outdoors can aid in recovery from addiction and improve mental health as well. There are even organized programs for horticultural and garden therapy.
How Gardening Helps in Recovery from Addiction
Helping addiction with gardening should only be done after or while receiving professional support. This is a serious disease that is best treated by mental health and addiction professionals. Used as a supportive therapy or activity, gardening can be very useful.
Gardening is a healthy activity to replace drug or alcohol use. People in recovery are often encouraged to take up one or two new hobbies to fill in extra time in beneficial ways. Gardening can become a distraction from cravings and negative thoughts, helping to prevent a relapse. New skills learned in creating a garden promote self-confidence and create an important sense of purpose.
Creating a vegetable garden may help someone in recovery start a healthier diet. Gardening provides physical activity to improve overall health. Spending time outdoors and in nature improves measures of physical and mental health, including lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, boosting the immune system, and reducing anxiety and depression. Gardening can also act as a type of meditation during which a person can reflect and focus the mind.
Gardening for Addiction Recovery
Gardening and addiction recovery go hand-in-hand. There are many ways you can use this activity to help promote recovery. For instance, you may just want to take up gardening in your yard. If you’re new to gardening, start small. Work on one flower bed or start a small vegetable patch.
You can also use gardening for addiction recovery in a more structured way. Consider taking classes through a county extension office, local nursery and gardening center, or through a facility that offers outpatient treatment and aftercare services. Many rehab centers have ongoing programs for people in recovery, including classes with activities like gardening and group support sessions in the garden.
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Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.