When we think about therapy, we tend to think of it in the traditional psychotherapy sense, where a trained professional meets with a patient with the goal of resolving and/or managing problematic areas in the patient's life. Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is thought to help our minds process and understand our feelings and emotions and can lead to an overall better quality of life. Over the last couple years, talk about therapy has become quite normalized amongst the general public, and while nothing about this past year has been traditional, traditional talk therapy has definitely increased in demand.
However, traditional talk therapy is not the only type of therapy available to us. Therapy can come in many different forms, including professional horticultural therapy, also known as garden therapy. The great thing about this therapy is that it's relatively low cost and pretty much anyone can implement some element of garden therapy into their daily lives. In this article, we'll discuss the benefits of garden therapy as well as some easy ways you can implement it into your everyday life.
Biophilic Design and Wellbeing
Biophilic design is a concept created by Edward O. Wilson which states that humans naturally have a desire to be closer to nature. People in places all around the world opt for having plants in their homes and offices and even travel to foreign destinations just to be closer to nature. Why do we do this? Studies have shown that when you engage with nature, you can lower your cortisol levels, which is one of the main hormones responsible for stress. Simply being in nature or surrounding ourselves with plants could help our bodies lower this stress hormone and restore balance to our lives.
Gardening as a Means of Connection and Fulfillment
Gardening is a great hobby for people of all ages and can help us distract ourselves from our everyday life. Over the past year, individuals across the globe began to reassess the importance of nature for mental and emotional health. The pandemic provided a unique opportunity in this sense; as our access to human contact was limited we began to look for significant connections elsewhere. This search for connection explains why interest in houseplants peaked during the pandemic. According to Gideon Lasco's article “How COVID-19 Is Changing People’s Relationships With Houseplants”, he points out that we have even come to "ascribe emotional states to our plants” based on their condition. For instance, happy plants being vibrant and healthy, while sad plants tend to have drooping, yellowing leaves. Through these attributions, we afford plants status as “individuals with distinct identities and personalities” and build relationships that are simultaneously "based on the ‘nature’ they bring and the “nurture” they exchange with their human companions.”
How to Practice Garden Therapy
Horticultural therapy is used by trained professionals to help patients with a wide variety of issues, but you don't necessarily need a trained professional to help you reap the benefits. If you are a beginner plant parent and have no idea where to start, check out our blog about indoor gardening for beginners where we share some helpful insight on where and how to begin your garden journey. If you already have a few thriving houseplants and are looking to do more, consider creating your own indoor vertical garden.
Remember that plants come in all shapes and sizes and have vastly different needs, so you are bound to find a plant that fits your space perfectly. Put smaller succulents on your desk or nightstand, or brighten a gloomy corner in your home with a ZZ plant or another low-light option.
During these uncertain times, it’s important to create an environment that our minds and bodies can thrive in. With the proven therapeutic benefits of gardening and nature-inspired space, we should all start incorporating more greenery into our homes and daily lives.