Gardening for stress relief
Gardens are not only beautiful and peaceful, research has shown that even having a view of a garden relieves stress and helps with the healing processes. University of Wisconsin horticulture educator Patti Nagai says even people who don't have a garden or space for a garden, can grow plants in containers or volunteer to help in a local community garden and reap the benefits of this calming activity.
A "healing garden" is colorful and diverse, incorporates long sweeping curves and promotes a sense of beauty and tranquility. Here are some pointers for creating a stress-relieving outdoor space:
- Complex designs with a lot of diverse plants have been shown to be more "visually engaging" and have a calming effect on those viewing the garden.
- Big sweeping curves are more relaxing than hard lines and straight rows.
- Use a mix of colors: hot colors (red, orange, yellow) are stimulating; cool colors (green, blue, purple, pink, white) are soothing.
- Open spaces are important, but so are garden boundaries and privacy. Use shrubs, grasses, trellising or fencing to create private areas.
- Water is a peaceful element, but keep it simple and low maintenance.
- Fragrant plants are delightful, and can invoke fond memories. Use lilac, lavender, basil, roses, or others to add fragrance. If you are hoping to reduce stress through gardening, it's important to make sure that working in the garden doesn't simply create additional stresses. That means, take it easy. Keep your gardening to-do list short. Stretch before and after working in the garden to minimize aches and pains. Take breaks to sit back, rest and appreciate what you've accomplished. Listen to music while you work.
Teaching children how to garden is a good way to rediscover the joys or gardening. When you garden with children, you see the garden through their eyes of discovery.