Plant Therapy: The New Prescription
The magical world of nature is being injected into the homes of millions of people struggling with anxiety and depression, and it’s working. Indoor plants aren’t just a fad or a past-time, they are a form of therapy you can use in your home. Studies have shown that patients who walk outside among trees show significant signs of increased happiness and recovery than those that are stuck inside, an idea many therapists are using in the community. So why not take part in some plant therapy for yourself?
I know what you’re thinking, plants? That sounds like a headache. Sure, some people have green thumbs, other people have toes for thumbs. If you’re not sure, you can usually tell a “green thumb” by the amount of dirt under their fingernails and the greenery in their houses. Doesn’t sound like you? That’s okay, not everyone can be good at everything, but even if you’re on your third Peace lily this month, crafting a plant hobby can change your life for the better.
It’s important to remember that plant therapy, like many forms of therapy, is a layer to your mental health plan, not a replacement for professional help. Think of it as that weird VHS head cleaner where you squirted the liquid into the VHS and ran it through your system. It wasn’t made to watch, but to assist the purpose of your player. Plant therapy is another tool you can use in your home to allow positive and loving energy to flow throughout.
Are you still not convinced? In Manchester, England, Metro’s Laura Abernethy found that general practitioners were “prescribing” plants to help people with their anxiety and depression. She found, “The idea is that patients get herbs, veg and pot plants to care for and they then bring it back to the surgery to transfer it to the communal garden.”
Grounding, Growing, and Green
There are two reasons why you should be introducing plants to your decor – grounding and growth. Grounding is what a plant does for you, and growing is what you do for the plant. That’s plant therapy! And both are really important if you suffer from anxiety or depression. It’s like raising children except they don’t talk back. Why is this a potent combination? Well, first, we need to create some context around mental health to understand what it means to be grounded.
The Past and the Future
At the core of all mental health issues is their potential to take us away from the present. These issues force us to either dwell and regret the past, or stress and feel anxious about the future. Do you see the problem that’s forming? You can’t control the past or the present, which means you’re always in a state of unrest.
Grounding is the practice of bringing your focus, energy, and attention back to the present. Remember, this isn’t the 60’s. You don’t need three puffs of the magic dragon to calm your mind and center yourself, you just need to create an environment where you aren’t distracted from the present. How can plants do this? Through grounding and growing. Welcome to plant therapy.
Plants have been shown to create calmness, positivity, and peace in people when used inside. These “states of being” allow people who are struggling with mental health issues to focus their mind back to the present, grounding themselves to the here and now. A study conducted by the Kansas State University found that when they placed indoor plants in hospital rooms,
“Patients in hospital rooms with plants and flowers had significantly more positive physiologic responses evidenced by lower systolic blood pressure, and lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue than patients in the control room… Based on patients’ comments, plants brightened up the room environment, reduced stress, and also conveyed positive impressions of hospital employees caring for patients.”
If you’ve ever struggled with anxiety, you’ll know that one of the hardest challenges you face is getting out of your own head. Like the first time you heard, “Never Gonna Give You Up” and three weeks, fourteen migraines, and five sleepless nights later, you were still humming it. When you stay in your head, the thinking part of your brain goes into overdrive, sending the feeling part of your brain into chaos.
But when you tend to a plant, you can’t focus on anything but the plant. You are forced to get out of your head and give time and love to something other than yourself. This act of tending to the plant not only gets you out of your head, but it also tends to your more deep-seated need of finding purpose. In other words, it grounds you.
It’s also important to create the distinction between a plant and say your children or pets. A plant cannot communicate in the same way was as a child or an animal. It requires attention and observation in a different way. Obviously, there isn’t a comparison – it’s a lot easier than caring for a child or pet – but it does offer something unique that will help ground you, especially if you don’t have children or don’t want pets. A child also won’t stand still like a plant, oh, but if only…
Now, you need to dip your toe, I mean green thumb, into the world of plants. Just like buying a pet, you should probably start with a plant that’s easy to maintain and won’t die on you if you neglect it for a few days. Remember with plant therapy, you’re both taking care of each other.
For the GenXWoman Who Misses Her Babies
Succulents are the perfect choice for first plant buyers. They are small, easy to handle, hardy, and require very little maintenance. They’re easy to grow from seeds, and because of their size, you can pack a heap into a small space.
For the GenXWoman Who Wants a Zen Den
Fiddle Leaf’s are the cream of the crop for indoor plants. Their big beautiful leaves set them apart, and they grow all year round. They can grow up to 10m tall, but over many years, and can be kept in pots their entire life. Be warned, they require a lot of attention, but they are the perfect plant to graduate from a succulent to a bigger plant.
Tip: a little neglect can sometimes be a good thing. Fiddle Leaf’s don’t like too much water, so the right soil, a little water, and good sunlight is all they need to thrive. They will transform any room into a space of Zen and tranquility.
For the GenXWoman Who Doesn’t Keep Plants Alive
Zanzibar Gem is the plant for the forgetful and neglectful, why? Because you only water it once a month in summer and once every two months in winter. That’s right, a plant that begs you to neglect it. You may not reap the rewards of growing it, but it will still help ground your decor and create positive energy.
For the GenXWoman Who Wants a Stunning Home
So, you read the article, loved it, but thought it was too much work. Well, say hello to Pothos. A vine/creeper indoor plant that you place in water and forget about it. Watch it climb up mirrors, over photo frames, along window sills, and across desks. It’s a gorgeous green, requires no upkeep, and it makes your room look fabulous.
Whether you struggle with mental health issues or not, indoor plants are the perfect addition to any decor style or space. And plant therapy is doable and reasonably priced. From no upkeep to basically a baby, whichever plant you buy, your home, the people in it, and your energy will thank you for it.