Picture yourself in one of your favorite places in nature. It’s a sunny day, the temperature is just right, and a light breeze is blowing. The leaves rustle as the wind picks up and you can feel a gentle warmth on your cheeks and shoulders.
Meditate on this visualization for a few moments while you slowly inhale and exhale.
Now, notice any changes that may have occurred in your body. Are you feeling more relaxed or less anxious? Has your body relaxed and your breathing slowed?
Just the act of picturing ourselves in nature is often enough to shift our mental state. When you consider the results of this visualization, it’s no wonder that regularly immersing ourselves in nature has a profound effect on our well being.
Because of this, we encourage our recovery clients to spend time in Alo Farms gardens. While we believe that gardening has distinct benefits to offer all people, we have found it to be especially therapeutic for those in addiction recovery. Keep reading for the top nine reasons gardening can help prevent relapse.
Read about another nature immersion activity Alo House offers here: AloRecovery.com/mental-health-surfing-benefits/
The Top Nine Benefits of Gardening for Those in Recovery
1. Provides Vitamin D
Exposing our bodies to sunlight provides us with a free dose of the all-important Vitamin D.
Vitamin D has been proven to aid in calcium absorption, strengthen our bones, and regulate our immune and neuromuscular systems.
This is especially beneficial for those in the early stages of recovery.
2. Relieves Monotony
One of the greatest causes of relapse in recovery is boredom.
Gardening provides a necessary escape from the routine nature of life. The work will vary depending on the season, giving those who garden an ongoing project that requires knowledge, decision-making, and care.
3. Helps with Loneliness
Building meaningful relationships is crucial for those in recovery. While gardening is an activity that can be practiced alone, it is also a wonderful opportunity to connect with a community.
Whether gardening prompts conversations with neighbors or relationships are built through a community garden, this is a hobby that is easily bonded over.
4. Creates a Sense of Purpose
By learning to care for something, those in recovery are given a new sense of self-worth. Through the process of watching their plants grow over time, gardeners often feel responsible for their gardens and find the process rewarding.
This can provide accountability for those in recovery, which is a critical part of remaining sober.
5. Improves Mental Health
Nature immersion is wildly beneficial for our mental health. Spending time in the garden has been proven to relieve stress and depression symptoms by reducing the amount of cortisol in the brain.
These positive effects are available to all those who spend time outdoors, but have a significant impact on those recovering from addiction.
6. Improves Physical Health
Along with its mental health benefits, gardening is also great for our bodies. The act of gardening is a form of aerobic exercise that helps those in recovery reach optimum physical health again.
Through staying active, those who garden will also remove toxins through sweat and notice improved sleep.
7. Encourages Compassion
Gardening is a creative pursuit that will not only give those in recovery a way to express themselves, it will also provide an opportunity for connection.
By learning to see outside themselves and extend care, recovering addicts who spend time in the garden experience a rejuvenated sense of interconnectedness that may have been lost due to their substance abuse.
8. Teaches Patience
Because gardening is a hobby that doesn’t offer immediate results, it requires a fair amount of patience.
Many of those who struggle with substance use disorders are inclined to seek instant gratification, and the process of cultivating a garden can teach and remind the gardener that growth takes time.
9. Encourages a Healthy Diet
By growing produce, gardeners have the pleasure of enjoying the fruits of their labor when it comes time to harvest. Not only will eating home grown fruits and vegetables provide many health benefits, it will also result in a strong self of accomplishment and purpose, which is an important part of a successful recovery.