Illnesses like cancer, dementia and different mental health problems tend to be extremely hard to treat, but studies have shown that gardening could actually not only help to manage these conditions, but even help people recover after cancer treatments and such. So doctors should prescribe gardening in addition to medicine more often.
The benefits from gardening come from two different places. First of all because gardening most of the time offers time spent outdoors, these outside spaces can reduce the feeling of isolation and keep the patents sense of well-being high. Reports even show that dementia patients are less violent when staying in a place where a garden is near, so gardening and outdoors can help with the life quality of patients, too. The second thing that gardening provides is also physical activity, that is fundamental to us feeling good, healthy and strong. The physical aspect of gardening keeps people moving and provides activity that isn’t very vigorous but still will give great benefits to all, but especially to cancer patients.
As of right now outdoors gardening is not common as a type of treatment that is prescribed by doctors, but, for example doctors that practice at the Bow Centre in London already sees the benefits of gardening and don’t hesitate to recommend it to their patients, even those that don’t suffer from serious conditions. That is because gardening also can help people to overall better their wellbeing, promotes better sleep and can reduce stress, depression, loneliness and anxiety levels. On top of that if people feel good and sleep well, they also are less likely to visit their General practitioner or seek the help from other doctors. And that in return could limit the amount of time GP’s need to spend on patients, whose problems are social in nature, and concentrate on patients, who really need doctor’s attention.
It might seem that gardening as a treatment is weird, but it gives doctors a way to refer their patients to a non-clinical options instead of just prescribing different medicine. Research shows that about 20% of all GP patent cases are problems with social causes, and therefore they could be also resolved by social prescriptions such as gardening. Because if we love more balanced life without as much stress, anxiety and tiredness and better sleep, then we feel better and can also avoid conditions like heart disease and obesity, which is known to lead to a whole new set of health problems.
But how can you practice gardening if you live in the middle of the city with no garden available to you. UK doctors actually have already stared a network of gardens, where patients, doctors, nurses and residents work together to grow their own vegetables. Moreover, the King’s College hospital is teaching their patients how to garden, and then the patients can sell the food they have grown to the hospital, which will be used to feed other patients. So gardening really is not only a way to grow food and maybe earn a little extra money, but also a way to keep yourself healthy and your well-being at all-time high.
But if you want to garden and there is no option for you to do so in an actual garden, you can even try to do it indoors with grow lights, on your windowsill or balcony. Granted this won’t give the benefits of working outdoors, but it still can ease you stress levels and serve as a therapeutic practice, so you can enjoy some of the gardening benefits and can overall live a better life.