plants
Horticultural therapy – a professional practice that encourages the use of plants and gardening to improve mental and physical health – is a burgeoning field. Image Credit: Unsplash/Jonathan Kemper

What if you could feel less moody, anxious and stressed out without resorting to any medication?

Click start to play today’s Word Search, where one unique solution for mental health struggles requires just sun and soil.

According to a May 2016 report in UK-based news website The Guardian, doctors from the UK’s National Health Service are increasingly prescribing time in Nature and community gardening projects to their patients. In Shetland, for instance, patients with depression and anxiety often receive ‘nature prescriptions’, wherein doctors recommend walks and activities that allow people to connect with the outdoors.

Horticultural therapy – a professional practice that encourages the use of plants and gardening to improve mental and physical health – is a burgeoning field. It makes sense, when you think about it. The many benefits of spending time in Nature are well known.

Many studies, including a September 2016 paper published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, have found that just spending time in Nature, such as strolling through a garden or park, can improve not only your mental health, but also your blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormone levels.

Taking care of plants takes these benefits to another level. Horticultural therapy has been shown to support the recovery of patients in hospitals, improve their mood, and result in shorter hospital stays, according to an August 2018 report in US-based news website CNN.

And it’s not just people with health conditions, who benefit from gardening. A July 2022 study by the University of Florida, US, published in the journal PLOS One, found that gardening activities lowered stress, anxiety and depression in healthy women who attended gardening classes twice a week. All the participants were in good health, and had never gardened before.

So, the next time you’re feeling low, just spend some time in Nature. Gardens, plants, trees – they’re all living things, and humans have been thriving in this nurturing, green environment for millennia. Reconnecting with that ancient bond may be the key to better health, and a better sense of connectedness with the world around us.

What do you think of horticultural therapy? Play today’s Word Search and tell us at games@gulfnews.com.