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Gardening is a healthy Balm for Chronic pain and Stress Relief!

I was talking to my Mom about what I am doing in the garden and how excited to have my hands back in the dirt, as well as starting plants in our greenhouse. She expressed how frustrated she has been because she is suffering from a bout of sciatica. Lower back pain that runs down the leg into the foot. It is excruciating and constant. Bending down and getting into the dirt to plant, weed or play is out of the question! I know how much joy she gets from gardening and to not be able to take advantage of this therapeutic routine has been rough on my mom.

It got me thinking, "how can you garden with chronic pain?" When you can't bend over, or your shoulder hurts, it is a real challenge to get to down into the garden. The solution is to garden from a standing position.

Bring the gardening up to your level, so there is minimal bending, lifting or carrying required. This way my mom can get her hands in the dirt and can plant, transplant or prune away to her heart's content and so can you!

My husband built a greenhouse last year and I was able to seed warm crops in late March. It has been so much fun to plant seeds and watch them grow! I asked my sister to help me and we have really connected enjoying each other; all over planting tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, peppers, patty pans, zucchinis, butternuts, spaghetti squash, and greens. In the middle of April, I began to transplant the seedlings into bigger pots.

Whether I am planting and gardening alone, with my husband, sister or mom it really grounds me and I feel so much better after I have been out in the garden, or in the greenhouse spending time with little seedlings, plants or dirt. There are a few AH moments that I wanted to share with you and as always, take what you need and leave the rest!

Therapeutic value from Gardening:

  1. I am totally present with the dirt, warmth, water and plants. Whether I am planting the seeds, getting my hands in the soil for planting or talking to the plants as I water them daily, my whole being is totally focused and I feel content! I spend 30 minutes to an hour sometimes a few times a week and I love it.

  2. Hands in the dirt or handling live plants is very therapeutic. The life forces fill me up and boost well-being.

  3. Observing the plants growing and changing helps me see the bigger picture and accept that change is part of life!

How can Gardening help to relieve chronic pain and reduce stress?

  1. Being present to what my pain is and what message it is sending me in the moment. Just like plants if they are wilted, the message may be, please water me, I am thirsty. What is your pain or body telling you in this moment? Meet it in this moment and see what you notice.

  2. Filling up your body with life force is essential for healing. For me, hands in the dirt, water, grass, or holding an animal is like plugging into that life force. Where can you plug-in and reduce stress, relieve pain and boost your well-being?

  3. Observing is a way of increasing awareness. Notice what is going on in and around; you can have a restoring outcome to relieving stress and reducing pain. Your body is sharing information with you all the time. When you take the time to Stop and Notice you can make the changes needed and often the first action needed is to Breath!

As spring moves to its fullness in May and opens to the warm and long days of summer, I invite you to step into your garden and become more present, replenish your life force and take the time to observe using my Stop, Notice and Breathe tool to reduce your stress and relieve your pain. Go to to get my free tool!



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