Those who dabble in gardening already know the positive benefits and effects it can have on the body and mind. But according to a report out in 2016 from the forward thinking King’s Fund Health Think Tank, gardening should be viewed as more than just a recreational hobby or means to stretch your legs more.
For patients suffering with dementia, cancer(s), or mental illness, gardening should be seen as a highly effective and viable way to reduce social isolation and improve mental elasticity. Being outside in a garden has both physical benefits to the body through exercise but also builds mental stamina through focusing on tasks which has shown to alleviate negative symptoms in patients.
This is part of an ongoing trend among hospitals and doctors who are now choosing to view the health of the whole body and mind and an interconnected system instead of focusing solely on specific ailments when sick. Giving patients a sense of need by having them participate in a garden and care for living plants refocuses the mind on positive outcomes, lowers stress, and avoids obsessing over their illness.
Throughout the study, King’s Fund advocated for individuals to participate in gardening from childhood to end of life as a general practice to improve general health and wellness as part of a public policy push. As I mentioned before, if you are already a gardener, I’ve been preaching to the choir. You don’t need to be sick to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of gardening and reconnecting with nature, but for those who are it provides a treatment that deserves more attention.