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Positive Effects of Therapeutic Gardens for Patients who have Trauma from Heart Surgery

Positive Effects of Therapeutic Gardens for Patients who have Trauma from Heart Surgery

Therapeutic Gardens

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, affects between 5 and 10 percent
of heart attack survivors. It has also been observed in patients following a
stroke, a heart transplant, or other significant heart surgery and the
implantation or activation of a cardioverter or defibrillator.
Scope-Care was founded to assist caregivers, family, friends, and patients
undergoing and recuperating from major heart surgery. It is a specialized
organization that focuses solely on the cardiac rehabilitation process,
providing healing gardens, online resources, meal plans prepared by
medical and healthcare professionals, and counseling and support for
patients and their loved ones on a holistic recovery journey.
Almost everyone experiences post-traumatic stress after a heart attack,
sudden cardiac arrest, stroke, or surgery. "These are tremendous shocks to
the system and the mind that often necessitate a massive readjustment to
who you are and what you've been doing," that’s from Leonard Doerfler, a
psychologist who has studied the ties between heart disease and PTSD
since the mid-1980s.
Most people recover and readjust by leaning on their inner strength, faith,
family, or other sources of support. Indeed, for some people, a heart attack
or stroke serves as a wake-up call to assess their situation and make
positive adjustments in their relationships and health. Others succumb to
PTSD harms the body, as well as the mind and relationships. Reduced
physical activity and failure to take critical medications can lead to another
heart attack or stroke.
Horticultural therapy has been used to help patients reach therapeutic goals
through gardening and plant-related activities since the 1800s. According to
the American Horticultural Therapy Association, it "helps improve memory,
cognitive capacities, task initiation, language skills, and socializing." People
learn to work independently, solve problems, and follow instructions."
Gardening was introduced into rehabilitation programs for hospitalized
World War II veterans. Therapeutic gardening programs for both veterans
and civilians have since grown in popularity.

Why is nature still valuable to humans?

Nature is a source of solace for people of all ages and cultures. In one
study, Clare Cooper Marcus and Marni Barnes discovered that more than
two-thirds of people select a natural location to relax when anxious. In
another study, 95% of those polled reported that spending time outside
improved their mood, shifting from gloomy, stressed, and worried to more
tranquil and balanced.
Why do humans find nature so calming? According to one school of
thought, it is hardwired into our genes. Roger Ulrich, a significant
researcher in healing gardens, puts it succinctly: "Because we evolved in
nature, we have a physiologically prepared inclination to respond favorably
to nature. Nature has been kind to us, and we prefer to respond positively
to circumstances that have been kind to us."
Another reason for our biological connection to nature could be because
individuals who paid close attention to nature gained essential knowledge
that assisted them in survival and reproduction. As a result, the propensity
to get engrossed by nature remained in those genes.
Many studies suggest that after a stressful incident, views of nature
generate a calming impact almost immediately. Blood pressure, respiration
rate, brain activity, and the generation of stress hormones all decrease
three to four minutes after seeing natural sights, and mood improves. This
has an evolutionary advantage since it helps us to heal and recover our
energy swiftly. The ability to recover fast from stress to respond to new
challenges was critical for our ancestors' survival.
Nature is also related to our spirituality as humans. We sense our
connection to entities other than ourselves when we are out in nature and
recognize our interdependence with other living beings. Nature also
inspires us to consider the ever-changing nature of existence and what
might lie beyond it. Nature provides a spiritual environment for us to
connect with ourselves and with others.
When several vital qualities of therapeutic gardens are considered, it
appears that gardening may be a unique source of repair and healing.
Consider these reasons.

From Vulnerable to Verdant

We experience deep powerlessness in the face of catastrophic
occurrences, such as disease, losing a loved one, violent attack, or
pandemic devastation. We are robbed of a familiar self who understands
how to solve problems, move, aid, and defend others we care about.
There is some comfort from the sensation of impotence in the garden
because there is less risk in daring to make things happen.
We don't go to the garden to rediscover our sense of purpose or strength.
Instead, we discover that plants and flowers are kind companions,
providing a respite from self-blame, sorrow, or weeping. They accept us
and allow us to participate without judgment. They can even grow with only
a portion of the plastic seed packs still attached. The garden re-establishes
the potential that our touch can cause something positive to bloom once

From the Time of Trauma to the Time of Nature

Traumatic experiences alter our sense of time's continuity. The pandemic
robbed everyone of valuable time and shattered dependable routines. The
first responders were pressed for time. Isolated elders felt stuck in what
appeared to them to be a finite or borrowed time. We were all struggling to
put the phrase "one day at a time" into action.
Nature keeps its own time in the garden. Blossoms among a pile of
shattered tree branches after a storm, and the daffodils bloom on
time—even though the world appears to be out of whack. A young woman
tells me that the wild blue flowers that bloom in her garden every summer
remind her of her mother and the closeness she feels when she is near her.
Gardening, whether conscious or unconscious, begins to loosen the way
trauma locks us into unpleasant moments.

From Negative Sentiments to Natural Sentiments

Because we respond to traumatic events with the human survival
responses of fight, flight, or freeze, trauma experts such as Bessel van der
Kolk and Peter Levine argue that we suffer because we are unable to
"shake off" the body's readiness for danger, or the traumatic memoriescarried in flashbacks, tactile sensations, or sensory reactivity to reminders
of the event.
Gardening's physical labor helps the body redirect hyperarousal,
experience movement, heavy breathing, and even perspiration for a good
reason. The perfumes, visual beauty, and physical contact inherent in
gardening are effective antidotes to the unpleasant experiences that
re-terrify and feed avoidance of life after trauma.

From Lost to Found in Nature

Trauma specialist Robert Stolorow reminds us that a "dreadful sensation of
estrangement and isolation" underpins the experience of psychological
trauma and jeopardizes connection and recovery. A lost relationship with
oneself is central to this sensation of detachment.
By forgetting oneself at the moment, one might find and rejuvenate oneself
in the garden. When in a "flow state," often known as being "in the zone,"
one does not feel alienated or alone. It is a mental state in which a person
is completely involved in an activity with a pleasant, enthusiastic focus.
Much like a runner discovering a new path or an artist losing time in the
world of her creation, becoming lost in gardening represents a connection
beyond consciousness, the opportunity to experience a self beyond grief
and loss.

From Assaulted Belief to Nature's Rebirth

While spirituality is a crucial resource for many people following a tragedy,
others believe that what has happened throws their faith in God into
question. Some people who believe their beliefs have been challenged are
deprived of their customary source of hope and comfort in times of distress.
There is no organized religion in the garden. The effects of being immersed
in nature are frequently described as transforming the heart and soul. Such
transition may feel sacred to some. Being in nature often rekindles or
redefines belief, whether it transforms or inspires.
Therapeutic gardens help to alleviate stress and develop a sense of
well-being. This results in significant psychological, physiological, and
behavioral benefits, such as decreased anxiety, melancholy, and othernegative moods, lower blood pressure and increased immunological
function, and improved adherence to the treatment protocol.

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