Gardening therapy is among the most accessible and affordable ways that can help you in your addiction recovery. After finishing the inpatient program in rehab, you will have to face the real world along with its challenges. But don’t fret; along with such challenges are opportunities to learn and grow as an individual who no longer has to rely on drugs or alcohol.
If you’re looking for new activities to try now that you’re out of rehab, you can try gardening therapy. If it’s warm and sunny in your area, you can start gardening immediately. You don’t need any special tools or a lot of skills to do this activity. All you need is the willingness to try something new.
As a recovering addict, it is important to take advantage of activities like gardening therapy. It has plenty of benefits for both physical as well as mental health. You get to spend time out of your house and out in nature. It will be an ideal time for you to try your hands on something new. You can learn new skills and try new strategies so you can better cope with the addiction.
Gardening is one of those activities that are calming and satisfying. When you grow plants, you get to witness a new life emerging from seeds. When you nurture those seedlings with proper care, you will have plants that are healthy and thriving. It will definitely be a rewarding experience.
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Benefits of Gardening Therapy for Addiction Recovery
Gardening is a relaxing activity to try. It also provides good physical activity. When you garden, you get to have this positive outlook on life. Being close to nature brings out this effect. It has been proven that spending more time in nature can boost your immune system, reduce stress, and lower your blood pressure. It has many positive effects on the mind and body of someone who is recovering from drug or alcohol addiction.
Gardening therapy is a good tool for a recovering addict. Apart from that, if you have other mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD, you can also benefit from gardening therapy. The meditative quality of this activity, it can help you gain a better perspective on life. You will also have space where you can begin to work through the different problems or issues you may have.
Enjoy a New Activity
When you’re recovering from an addiction, you need to give up old habits relating to drug use. You also need to cut ties with friends with whom you did drugs. While this is a difficult process, you have to keep in mind that it is a necessary step. It will help ensure that you won’t be exposing yourself to the risks of going back to drug use.
With all the things that you need to remove from your life during recovery, you will surely have this void that needs to be filled. You can add gardening to the new activities that you can try now that you have a lot of time in your hands. What’s great about gardening is that you can do it alone or with others.
If you want to spend time on your own as you tend to your garden, you may do so. If you want to interact with other gardeners, meet new people, or share different gardening techniques, you can join a community garden. It’s all up to you. It’s a great activity both for meditation and for socializing, depending on your preference.
Develop New Skills
With gardening, you can develop new skills. You can also learn how to focus and pay attention to small details. Such skills will help you in working through your problems. When you witness the garden that you’ve nurtured flourish, you will feel fulfilled. Imagine starting with an empty plot and turning it into a lively ecosystem. It will be a very satisfying experience.
When you nurture a plant, you can experience caring for something. The development of your garden correlates to your own progress during your recovery from addiction. Gardening and addiction recovery has a lot of similarities. You need to be patient and trust that the process will help you be better. Soon enough, you and your garden will blossom beautifully.
Reduce Stress During Withdrawal
Studies found that when you cultivate a garden, it can decrease your cortisol level. Cortisol is a hormone that the body releases during stressful situations. There was a study where the participants were asked to perform a stressful task. They were then assigned randomly to half an hour of outdoor gardening.
The next step that the researchers took was to measure the participant’s cortisol level. The researchers also asked them how their mood was. The result of the study was that the participants who did some gardening had a drop in their cortisol levels.
They also had a more positive mood compared to the control group. This research was able to provide evidence that gardening can indeed promote some relief from stress.
During drug addiction recovery, it can be a very stressful time. You’ll be feeling a lot of uncomfortable sensations because your body is not used to not having the substance in your system. While going through withdrawal, it is important that you have an activity that you can do. An activity like gardening can greatly help you to deal with the stressful withdrawal process.
Building a Positive Habit
Gardening is a good habit to develop. It is similar to working out, taking a walk, or other moderate forms of exercise. When you structure your life around a healthy routine, you will have the opportunity to experience its rewards. You will feel your mood and your overall well-being improves. You will also feel a sense of joy, relaxation, satisfaction, and accomplishment.
As a positive habit, gardening will allow you to feel positive feelings throughout your day. You do have to remember that when you build a new and healthy habit, it won’t be easy. But for you to enjoy the benefits of gardening therapy, you have to do it on a regular basis. Find the motivation to go to your garden daily so that you can water your plants and check them. You will feel good about it especially when you see your plants flourishing.
Improves Mental Health
Do you know that exposure to dirt is actually good for your mental health? There’s research that states that soil bacteria improves your resilience to stress. As it turns out, the microbiome of our gut communicates with our brain. This microbiome helps in regulating stress in our brain function, behaviour, and physiology.
There are particular soil bacteria that make the neurons in our brain produce more serotonin. It is important because if our neurons do not produce enough serotonin, it can lead to depression. The result of the study was able to show that exposure to microorganisms in the environment has several benefits. It includes improvement in our mental health. It is good news for those who are stressed, have depression, PTSD, and other mental health conditions.
Gardening as Meditation
When you focus on one task, you get to have a meditative mindset. Being in nature can enhance your mindfulness and helps you focus. It is a vital aspect of gardening because meditation and mindfulness both help in supporting better mental health.
Many studies have reached the conclusion that meditation can actually ease one’s anxiety and stress. To be more specific, meditation can activate the relaxation response of the nervous system.
Apart from that, meditation can help you to learn how to witness your emotions from a good distance. It means you won’t get caught in your emotions all the time. You will have the opportunity to process your emotions while you’re gardening.
Nature and Its Impact on Your State of Mind
Being exposed to nature can lift your mood. The time you spend outside can decrease your stress level, anxiety, and depression. You will also spend less time in rumination or thinking about your problems over and over.
There’s a study where participants had to take a nature walk. They reported that they thought less about their problems. Moreover, the researchers found that there’s also a decrease in the participants’ neural activity in their subgenual prefrontal cortex. It is the area of our brain that activates during rumination.
Gardening is a magical experience. Imagine how some water, sun, and your care can take a tiny seed and turn it into a healthy plant. That in itself is its own miracle. When you take your mind off of your own problems and open your mind to something bigger like the beauty of nature, you can appreciate life more.
Urban Gardening: How to Start a Garden in the City?
When you imagine gardening, you may think that you need a large space for it. But it is not necessarily so. If you live in a highly-urbanized area, don’t think that gardening is impossible. You’ll be surprised to know that there are many people practicing urban gardening.
There are many cities in the world these days that have a community garden. You can be a part of this group so you can participate in gardening activities. A community garden is a green space in an urban setting shared by many gardeners.
Community gardens are inspiring and calming spaces that you can enjoy. It is full of vegetables, flowers, and different kinds of plants. It attracts butterflies and birds and various kinds of beautiful life forms. This space has a rejuvenating and meditative effect on people who visit it.
Try to check if there are any community gardens in your city so you can take part in it. If there are none, then you may consider creating and organizing one yourself. There are already a lot of resources when it comes to gardening and starting a community garden. You can simply do your research online or find valuable information from books. It won’t be a difficult task.
Growing Your Garden
While a community garden is fun, you may want to have your own garden as well. Maybe you prefer solitude and its meditative effects. You can grow your garden in your backyard. However, if you live in an apartment and there’s not a lot of space, you can try container gardening.
Many individuals have successfully grown their own gardens using containers. They were able to grow fruits, herbs, and vegetables and enjoyed a plentiful harvest. All you need are adequately-sized containers or pots, good garden soil, and seeds of the plants you want to grow.
A vital element when it comes to gardening is making sure that you give your plants proper nourishment so that they will thrive. There are many things that you can try such as worm composting. It is an easy and sustainable practice so you can reduce your biodegradable household waste as well.
A personal garden is good to have because you can visit your plant daily. You can watch them grow and you will be amazed by the way that plants flourish. It will be exciting and you will look forward to checking your garden every day.
Gardening therapy during addiction recovery can instill in you a sense of purpose and hope. You will be able to experience bringing plants to life with great nutrition and care. Apart from that, you will see them blossom in due time. It is a great tool that can build up your confidence and awareness of what it means to care for something.
In addiction recovery, there are a lot of activities to choose from, and gardening is just one of them. Gardening will be able to remind you that renewal and change are absolutely possible.
Don’t ever think that once you’re an addict, you can never recover. You will witness change not just in your backyard but in yourself as well. A garden is your perfect metaphor for continuous personal growth and progress.
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