10 Reasons Why Gardening and the Arts Impact Recovery
A column sharing the expertise of FHR's diverse staff, comprised of over 600 employees across 8 states
Spring marks a time of rebirth, renewal, and growth. For many, this is also a time of year to enjoy gardening and other forms of creativity. How do you think the arts and being creative positively impact recovery?
"I've found painting groups provide comfort and refuge from individuals' everyday issues. Participants have told me that art reduces stress and decreases their anxiety, which in turn positively increases how they feel. It has been huge to see the relationship between creative expression and healing." - Jennifer L., Massachusetts
"I think that the arts positively impact recovery because without them individual's would not be able to creatively express themselves. Without expressing their feelings they would not be able to release or reduce symptoms such as anxiety. I also believe that when the individual's that we serve have a talent that someone else doesn't it gives them satisfaction to share their greatness with others!" - Bethany J., Delaware
"The arts can impact recovery in many ways. It can be as simple as developing new coping skills to utilize to maintain stability in times of stress, anxiety, or depression. Art can also be used as a critical part of recovery, focusing on insight development and reductions on negative symptoms at a time of potential crisis. Gardening is a wonderful example of a therapeutic coping skill, as it has the client invest in a long-term project that they will get to continually watch change and grow through the season." - Jenevieve S., Rhode Island
"Being creative allows the individual to express the essence of who they are. Every human being is endowed with something special, which sets them apart from all others. The arts (in all forms) provide evidence, that 'who I am is of particular design and worth'- the hallmark of mental health itself." - Penelope C., Massachusetts
"Gardening and the arts impact recovery because they teach new skills. Whether it be gardening, culinary, or in another form, it is very rewarding for the people we serve. It is also a great way to integrate into the community." - Cecil P., North Carolina
"I have watched quiet individuals begin to get excited about what they are doing, begin to find a purpose in their lives, and have more confidence within themselves. I have watched for those 30 minutes, 1 hour, or more, as some of their symptoms seem to dissipate for a time and give them a reprieve to work on their project. Providing individuals with the opportunity to learn new things and take that home with them to alleviate that alone time is a gift. When one feels good about what they are doing, they begin to feel better about themselves and are able to work on their recovery one step at a time." - Therese B., Massachusetts
"After a grey winter, which has its own beauty, the bright sun, warmer temperatures, and green bushes, trees, flowering plants, and fruit trees are a welcome sight. At Chatham House we have two areas where the soil is tilled in preparation for spring. The persons served and staff take satisfaction in tilling the nutrient rich dark colored soil, seeing the healthy worms, and removing weeds and making a pile of rocks from the soil. A sense of accomplishment is felt; there is no right or wrong way to get a garden ready. The persons served do what comes natural without judging themselves or others. One area is a flower garden and the other will be vegetables: lettuce, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, and herbs for our daily meals. The flower garden is a place to sit, meditate, or just take in the sun. It is near the front door and a welcome sight to visitors and family members. The act of planting and watering and watching things grow that are beautiful make one feel grounded and peaceful. It is natural that these feelings cross over to other areas of life positively impacting recovery; relationships with ourselves and others, seeing the beauty in the present moment without complaining, or feeling it should be different than what it is." - Paul M., Massachusetts
Thoughts from Individuals in FHR's Programs:
"It helps express feelings." - Andy
"It calms me down and helps me stay away from the negative." - Tia
"The art has helped me to feel proud of myself. I like what I'm doing. The feeling of self-worth has improved my mental stability. I like the connection I've made with art and the people here." - Anonymous
The information listed above are the thoughts of individuals and does not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of FHR. Some responses have been edited for length or clarity.