Background: Stress-related ill health, e.g. burnout, is of great concern worldwide. Effective rehabilitation programs need to be developed and their therapeutic aspects understood.
Purpose: To explore and describe how women with stress-related ill health who are on sick leave experience the rehabilitation process in a therapeutic garden and how these experiences connect to their everyday lives.
Methods: This longitudinal study used methods from grounded theory. Five women completed three semi-structured interviews at three weekly intervals during rehabilitation and one interview three months after. Data were analyzed using a constant comparative approach.
Findings: A secure environment facilitated engagement in activities that provided feelings of enjoyment. These experiences inspired participants to add enjoyable activities in their everyday lives, contributing to occupational balance, despite worries of not be able to continue performing enjoyable activities. Implications. Effective rehabilitation programs need to focus on enjoyable activities in a protective environment to support achievement of occupational balance.