Could gardening be the new cure for addiction? Well in Sankalpa we are conducting some action research to see if using a spade can really help people in recovery from addiction!
What could be more beneficial for ones health whether you have an addiction to drugs, or shopping, than being out in nature at this time of the year?
The psychological impact of gardening is that it is considered a serene occupation, an oasis of calm, a grounding experience. The combination of the fresh air and the physicality of the tasks helps oxygenate the bloodstream and energize the physical body while simultaneously releasing endorphins involved with stress alleviation. Numerous scientific studies validate the calming effect of the garden by showing findings that reveal simply being in a garden lowers blood pressure.
The physical impact is such that gardening not only provides fitness via calorie burning and muscle toning activities but offers opportunities to improving strength, endurance and flexibility in legs, arms and hands. It has been show to help with hand to eye coordination and improved motor skills, not to mention that the process of gardening stimulates appetite and fosters a good night’s sleep. The later two being the key benefits to rehabilitation of the infirm, those in recovery or those coming to terms with trauma or cognitive difficulties.
Gardens stimulate, they engage all of our senses not just the sights, sounds and smells around us, but touch too; the textures of soil tell a story, and feeling; the emotional satisfaction of a harvest or a successful cutting as well as the deeper side in a sense of belonging or a realization of a spiritual connection or spiritual/emotional peace. Gardening can offer strides in the development of social and intellectual skills, especially those required for social inclusion or rehabilitation. Gardening involves personal initiative, personal effectiveness, a nurturing responsibility to living things. It can involve team work and encourage dialogue. It reveals our capacity to become involved and offers opportunities for accomplishment. Gardening is also a form of self-expression; creativity builds confidence while enabling a healthy outlet for emotions.
Furthermore gardening can assist with fundamental skills like literacy (labelling a plant, reading seed sowing instructions) and numeracy (measuring planting distances, counting seeds) etc, building more confidence and self esteem. While the spiritual and holistic side of horticultural therapy sees value in gardening as meditation. Many practitioners espouse how it quietens the conscious mind, allowing the subconscious mind to discover solutions to problems and negative thinking patterns. In the main those attracted to gardening are reflective, not always introverted outside the garden, but ‘considered’ inside it. Optimistic too, for you sow in hope to reap a harvest many months away. Part of the job description is positive thinking and to a degree lateral thinking too, when it come to ingenious ways to weed, water, control pests, time save etc.
Gardening makes one philosophical in outlook; we come to accept that not every seed germinates, not every slug falls into the trap, perfection is a myth, but we as a whole are flexible and undaunted and we happily adapt to circumstances beyond our control – the non germinated seed did not dislike me so much that it chose not to enter the world. It simply was not viable and a lot of things in life are not viable but wow look at how tall the ones that did germinate are now.
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And for a laugh have a look at this video!