The Garden Method

A science-based intervention to prevent the negative impact of distress and build community resilience.

Why is it called the “Garden Method?”

Because caring for mental health is much like tending a garden.

Depending on where we come from and what our experience in life has been, we all have different ways of thinking and talking about mental health. Stigma und misunderstandings often stand in the way of conversations that make way for new solutions. Interventions that work well in Europe may not necessarily translate into other cultures. This is why we’ve chosen to use the universal language of gardening to work with what we all have in common when it comes to our mental health: A nervous system that responds similarly to stress, and to wellbeing

Just like our wellbeing, a garden can survive on its own, but it can also flourish with a bit of extra care. 

Just like we humans survive hardship, storms and drought can destroy a harvest, but with hard work, a healthy climate and help from friends, a garden can recover and thrive. 

What other parallels do you see? Please share your ideas with us, we love to learn from new voices in our conversation about mental health!

The Garden Method is easy to learn. It can be taught in group workshops or simply from friend to friend. You don’t need formal qualification to become a Garden Method Trainer. Coreszon’s training program enables community members to adapt the method to their community’s culture and share it with others. This peer-to-peer approach aims to add to communities’ existing resources, relationships and abilities. The Garden Method places a strong emphasis on social cohesion. In challenging times, the ability to work together well is an invaluable asset. It can protect the wellbeing of everyone involved and plays a vital role in how we overcome crises and hardship together.

The Method:

  • Seven simple lessons about the biology behind stress and wellbeing.
  • Five simple, "biological" tools to manage stress and build resilience.

What you can learn:

  • How to boost your existing resilience to prevent mental ill-health.
  • How to take action when you notice that you or someone in your community is struggling.
  • How to apply current research on resilience and social neuroscience to your everyday life and relationships.

How does it work?

The Garden Method is rooted in brain science, social neuroscience and developmental psychology. It aims to enhance the ability to “know our own hearts”, or: to differentiate between sensations in the body that are pleasant, unpleasant and neutral.

In social neuroscience, this ability is called “interoceptive awareness”. Interoception happens naturally. It helps the body respond to stress in a way that keeps us balanced. For example, with a faster heartbeat, slower breathing or tenser muscles. Most of the time, we hardly notice these “interoceptive signals”. But sometimes we become aware of “butterflies in our stomachs” or a “warm feeling in our hearts”; these are also called sensations. 

The Garden Method helps people use interoceptive awareness to regulate stress. As we all know, focusing attention on an itch or a pain will usually intensify it. But what if we focus attention on a sensation that is pleasant or neutral? Doing this is like watering the vegetables and flowers in a garden: by paying special attention to them, we can encourage them to grow and thrive. If we do so often enough, they can provide a source of nourishment that can balance out the costs of extreme or chronic stress.