HORTICULTURE THERAPY ACTIVITIES

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A special de-stresser for teens

Have you ever had a day where nothing seems like it could go right? Maybe your car wouldn’t start. You forgot your umbrella. The dog got into the trash. Or, perhaps you accidentally burned your pizza bites. Sometimes the simple stresses of daily life seem too much to handle. While sitting back, watching TV or taking a long bath might be suitable options to cope with your built up stress, horticulture therapy activities provide a less conventional method for a similar effect. Horticulture therapy involves the interaction with plants to aid in the strengthening of the body and mind. Touching and feeling plants has been proven to boost moods and reduce stress, and while the full effects of horticulture therapy are best felt with the help of a professional therapist, there are many elements of horticulture therapy that can be introduced on your own. 

Go outside and smell the roses. Literally. 

  • Not only does being in your backyard, connecting with nature, reduce stress, smelling the flowers and fresh plants has a physical reaction with your body that will deliver the same effect. 
  • Linalool is a compound found in many plants such as oranges, lavender and basil that, when smelled, reacts with your mind to reduce stress. Lavender releases serotonin, giving off a calming sensation. 
  • Some other plants known for calming fragrances include roses, chamomile, jasmine, lemon, and grapefruit. Consider planting these in a container garden or ask your parents about your own garden space.  
  • Sit among the flowers as time allows, or better yet, lie down. Try closing your eyes and permitting the smell of the flowers to flow through your nose. Which one makes you the calmest? Are you drawn to a certain smell? Take note of how you feel and consider introducing the most effective aromas into an interiorscape. 

Start a garden:

  • With your parents’ permission, start a garden in your backyard, or your piece of the family garden to connect with nature and help relieve stress. Interacting with the plants as you water and weed them will relax your mind and strengthen the muscles you use.
  • Decide where you want to set up your horticulture therapy garden. It should be somewhere that receives an appropriate amount of sunlight and will provide enough space to relax. You can also use a few raised planters to add height. 
  • Pick out which plants you want to include in your garden. Horticulture therapy is about what makes you feel the best. Try to stimulate your senses with your plant selection. Consider filling your garden with herbs and flowers that have soothing smells, like lavender, or are soft to the touch, such as Lamb’s Ear. 
  • Plant the seeds according to package directions. Water the plants regularly.
  • Use mulch on the perimeter of your garden so there is a clear boundary as to where it starts. The strict lines created by mulch are aesthetically attractive, which will please your sense of sight.
  • Tend to your plants every day to get the maximum usage out of the stress-relieving powers of your horticulture therapy garden.

Flower pressing

  • Go out to your garden and pick the most beautiful flower you can, keeping in mind that thick flowers can be difficult to press. You will find that being outside, around nature, and touching flowers for your pressing project will immediately reduce stress. 
  • Find the largest book you can (one that you don’t mind getting slightly water damaged or wrinkled) and place an absorbent paper on an open page in the middle. An absorbent paper can be anything from facial tissues to coffee filters to parchment paper. 
  • Place the flower on top of the absorbent sheet, and add another on top, as if you were making a flower sandwich. Close the book very gently. Place a heavy object on top of the book for additional pressure. 
  • Let the flower sit for a few weeks, and if it is not completely dry, replace the absorbent paper and continue to press. 
  • The final product will have a papery feel and will be very delicate. Place it in plain sight where it can serve as a de-stresser.

Next time you need a mood boost, skip the shopping spree and try horticulture therapy. It’s a time-tested approach to creating happiness that has been around for 200 years. Happy planting!