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As expected, contact with nature has positive and healthy effects on our mind and body.
And following this line of thought, we have garden therapy, which is increasingly used to treat illnesses or emotional imbalances, such as stress or depression, logically with the support and support of a therapist or doctor.
Those who care for plants and flowers at home, in the garden or in some space know the beneficial effects of this activity and will understand how good the practice of hortotherapy can provide.
Growing plants, putting your hands on the ground, admiring the beauty of life that grows and develops in its various cycles, with the vegetation, the scent of flowers and fruit on the trees, it is priceless and a gift! !
And what's more, it's affordable, you just need a space with land.
Many NGOs, institutions and associations that deal with therapies to treat patients with various health problems have already realized the effectiveness of the application of garden therapy, an activity that has been growing around the world as a complement in the treatment of patients with Alzheimer's, depression and autism, anxiety or Down syndrome.
Spaces for garden therapy can be found in many hospitals, sanatoriums, nursing homes, and medical institutions of various kinds.
The benefits of garden therapy
The benefits of putting your hands on the ground and dealing with plants, flowers or fruit trees are many, since contact with nature promotes the following:
- improve mood
- provides well-being
- rehabilitates patients in various aspects: mental, emotional and physical
- serves as occupational and social therapy
This activity can be passive or active, and in the first case, users contemplate the beauty of nature, sitting near the garden, orchard or orchard, as in the case of wheelchair patients with serious cancer problems and, in In the second case, patients participate directly in the creation, organization, maintenance and care of the green space.
But in most cases, the horticultural and therapeutic garden projects involve the active participation of patients who plant, water, prune and finally involve body and soul in this activity to contemplate a posteriori the results of all this dedication, seeing that the beauty grows around you with flowering and fruitful plants.
It is a way of feeling useful and improves self-esteem, as well as learning a trade and developing a skill, contributing to the social reintegration and inclusion of some types of patients, functioning as occupational and social therapy.
Maria Cristina Cesana, professor of garden therapy at the Monza Park Agricultural School, Italy, explains:
“Garden therapy provides active and participatory stimuli and distracts the patient from the state of suffering and stress in which he is. Of course, it is not a real cure, but an aid to free the mind and body, to regain contact with oneself, with others and with the world. The benefits can be of various kinds.
- They can be physical, because contact with nature improves motor, respiratory and cardiovascular skills.
- They can be intellectual, because taking care of these spaces allows them to acquire new skills and knowledge.
- They can be emotional, develop self-esteem and greater self-control over depressive or aggressive states.
- And finally they can be social, because gardening improves communication between the different subjects in the therapeutic space ”.
Green spaces must take into account the characteristics and needs of the different types of people who will need to use them, which can be:
- old people
- people suffering from Alzheimer's or Parkinson's
- psychiatric or mentally ill patients
- people with autism
- individuals with physical limitations
- children or young people facing social difficulties those with depression or burnout syndrome
- cancer patients
And about how the space should be, the teacher Maria Cristina Cesana gives some advice:
“The garden should favor natural physiotherapy and cognitive and mnemonic stimulation (forms of memorization). It should contain many benches to allow the person to rest after walking even a short distance; the bathroom should be close and easily accessible and there should be no potentially toxic plants or fruits. "
Therefore, the spaces should meet the needs of the patients, for example, those with depression or psychiatric problems are advised not to deal with any type of plant or object that can be injured, while those with Alzheimer's should not use some colors . Because in this disease there is a visual impairment.
As you can see, garden therapy is a good technique that can help in the physical and psychological rehabilitation of people facing various limitations and health problems.
May more and more hospitals and healthcare organizations use and develop this type of easy-to-administer therapy with such positive and effective results!
Deise Aur, article in Portuguese