Healing Gardens: Resilience After Disasters and PTSD

Written By

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Updated:

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Healing Gardens

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Despite the devastating effects of natural disasters, communities can often find strength and hope in the aftermath.

One way that people can build resilience is by creating and participating in local community gardens. Community gardens are a great way to promote food security, social and mental health support, access to fresh produce, and green spaces.

Let’s take a closer look at how community gardens foster resilience after an earthquake.

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Benefits of healing gardens

One of the most significant benefits of community gardens is that they minimize food insecurity after a disaster.

In the wake of an earthquake, grocery stores may be inaccessible or closed due to damage or power outages.

This disruption can cause a strain on already-limited resources and put vulnerable populations at risk for malnutrition and starvation.

However, with community gardens providing access to fresh produce, families have more reliable sources of nutrition during difficult times—which helps them stay healthy and recover more quickly from disasters.

Another benefit is that community gardens provide social support and strengthen psychosocial resilience within communities affected by natural disasters.

It is common for people to feel overwhelmed or powerless after a disaster; however, coming together as a group to create something meaningful can help individuals cope with their emotions and restore their sense of optimism about the future.

Through working together in communal spaces like community gardens, neighbors also have an opportunity to build relationships with one another—which can be particularly helpful in rebuilding trust between members of fragmented communities after a traumatic event.

  • Gardening has been found to be effective in helping individuals dealing with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Gardening can provide a sense of control and accomplishment, a self-esteem boost, foster a connection with nature, and promote physical activity, all of which can help improve mood and alleviate symptoms of mental illness.
  • Public healing gardens provide a low-cost and accessible option for effective mental health treatment, especially for individuals who may not have access to traditional mental health care or who may be hesitant to seek treatment.

Community initiatives that aim to create and maintain public healing gardens can extend the benefits of gardening to a wider population and promote mental health awareness.

Healing Ptsd With Gardening

Community gardens also facilitate access to fresh produce and green spaces for those living in densely populated urban areas where there may not be enough land or resources available for growing food crops commercially or privately.

By utilizing public land such as parks or vacant lots for gardening projects, people living in cities have more options available to them when it comes to sourcing local produce without having to rely on imported goods from other regions—which can be expensive or otherwise unavailable during disasters when transportation systems are disrupted.

Additionally, green spaces like community gardens provide much needed respite from physical destruction by offering calming environments where people can gather safely outdoors away from damaged buildings or debris-filled streets.


Encouraging participation in local healing gardens

Aside from its practical benefits, participation in community garden initiatives also has important psychological implications for survivors who may be dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as physical repercussions caused by injuries sustained during the disaster itself.

Working together outdoors provides physical activity opportunities which promote both physical and mental well-being amongst neighbors affected by trauma.

This helps those recovering from injuries regain mobility through low-impact exercises like gardening activities such as weeding or harvesting vegetables, which require minimal effort but offer maximum rewards when it comes to self-care strategies following tumultuous events like earthquakes or other major disasters.

group of hands touching a tree together
Understanding the Impact of Community Gardens on Disaster Recovery Efforts Community gardening initiatives are powerful tools that can help communities rebuild after natural disasters like earthquakes by offering practical solutions such as minimizing food insecurity while promoting social connectedness among neighbors who need emotional support during difficult times—all while providing access to nutritious foods grown locally without relying on commercial imports which may not always be accessible after a traumatic event occurs within a given region or cityscape.

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✓ Over 35K licensed professionals

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✓ Cancel plan or change therapist anytime

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Gardening is healing

By encouraging participation in local community garden projects through education and training sessions focused on fostering self-sufficiency amongst participants as well as mutual aid programs designed to encourage cooperation among members of fractured neighborhoods searching for ways to heal collectively through shared resources such as land usage rights—community gardening initiatives represent an important asset capable of helping survivors become resilient once again following major events like earthquakes.

Horticultural therapy is a formalized practice that utilizes gardening and plant-based activities to promote physical and mental well-being.

It is recognized as an effective therapeutic intervention for individuals with mental health conditions and can be incorporated into treatment plans.

References

  1. Community Gardening: Stress, Well-Being, and Resilience Potentials. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7558991/
  2. Amish Heritage: How Gardening Can Help You Successfully Manage Post-Traumatic Stress. https://www.amishheritage.org/how-gardening-can-help-you-successfully-manage-post-traumatic-stress/

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About the author

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Mindful living for a happier, healthier you. I’m a medical writer, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and a mental health advocate in Warsaw, Poland, with nine years working as a therapist. I hold a Master's in Clinical Psychology degree from the University of Warsaw. I specialize in writing about mental health, using my experiences and academic background to educate and inspire others. In my free time, I volunteer at a Disability Learning Center and go for nature walks. My writing aims to break down mental health stigma and help others feel understood. Social connections are vital to mental well-being, and I am dedicated to fostering communities of support and empathy. By sharing knowledge and personal insights, I strive to create a more compassionate world. Social

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