Gardening is good for you – not just your physical health, but your mental health too. There’s a reason, especially right now, that we love plants so much. If you have a connection to nature, now is the time to cultivate your green thumb.
While I was at a nursery grabbing a few small perennial herbs to plant near the greenhouse, because you really can’t have too many herbs, I noticed a tree. I’d never seen such a tree before but I had also never felt a connection to a plant like I did with that tree before either. It was a weeping blue spruce. Something about that tree kept calling to me and I spent two days talking about it to my husband until he said “you know what? I can tell you love that tree. Just go get it.” So I did. I felt right. It felt like this tree belonged with me. I thought I was the only one until I took my daughter to a hair appointment in town.
My friend, who owns the salon I take the kids to, said she’s been unable to refrain from filling her home and yard with plants right now. Not just vegetables, but trees, and indoor plants, flowers, and succulents. I realized I had been like that too lately. Then when talking to my other friends, they were saying things like “I have no idea why I’m buying all these plants, but I just can’t get enough of them right now!” I had felt like this too! I want more plants. I want more trees. I knew there had to be a reason why some of us have been drawn to nature and certain plants right now, and there is! There’s a scientific reason why our souls have been craving gardening and plants at unexplainable levels.
We are already turned to nature as human beings, but some have noticed the energy of plants has been something just short of magical lately. According to Yahoo, studies have shown caring for plants is a good form of therapy, as the act of tending to them relieves stress, has an overall calming effect, and takes our minds off the daily grind – or, the lack thereof for many on the planet. Plants are living beings that we can almost “feel” ourselves become attached to. Reading that kind of hit me, because I was definitely drawn to that beautiful weeping blue spruce. Now that it’s planted, I still can’t stop venturing outside to check on it and marvel at its beauty.
“Watching a plant grow and thrive under your care can help you feel satisfied with minimal effort. Plants improve the aesthetics of one’s surroundings and can help us remember that we are connected to, and part of, nature particularly if we live in urbanized city environments,” said Dr. Natasha Bijlani, a consultant psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Roehampton.
Not to mention, gardening and planting larger trees outside is good for physical health, as we get our bodies moving and enjoy time in the sun. Plus, if we weed and work on a garden that provides us delicious and nutritious vegetables and herbs we can reap the benefit of caring for those plants after we harvest them too.
During times of great amounts of stress like those times we are living through now, all situations are different. But there’s nothing a plant cannot help, even if minimally. There’s a lot of negativity in the world right now, and plants are a great way to take a break from technology that brings us that news on a constant IV drip of information. Now that so many are working from home, or unemployed, constantly checking work emails and scrolling through social media have become even more common. Even if it’s just for a few minutes a day, watering or planting forces you to focus on something that isn’t on a screen and won’t have us feeling bad about ourselves.
I’ve found that if you love a plant that you see and you have the means to purchase it, you should just do it! Nothing feels so strange as thinking about a tree all night instead of sleeping. I mean, it’s a tree. It shouldn’t matter that much, and yet there’s a psychological reason why we need to reconnect with nature, especially during such uncertain times. Even if you live in an apartment where buying a tree isn’t practical, consider indoor plants at the very least.
It may seem obvious, but indoor plants are hugely beneficial to our mental well being. One 2015 study found that a group of people in their 20s experienced a decrease in blood pressure and other symptoms of stress when they took part in indoor gardening sessions, compared to computer-related tasks. Indoor plants help to reduce “physiological and psychological stress”, the results suggested.
If you choose to grow indoor herbs, you can also learn to make your own soothing and calming teas fro them, getting even more benefits from the plants you love.
The desire to reconnect with nature is likely stemming from the crazy world we are all living in. Over 100 studies have shown that being in nature, living near nature, or even viewing nature in paintings and videos can have positive impacts on our brains, bodies, feelings, thought processes, and social interactions. In particular, viewing nature seems to be inherently rewarding, producing a cascade of position emotions and calming our nervous systems. These in turn help us to cultivate greater openness, creativity, connection, generosity, and resilience.
the bottom line, is that we need to reconnect with nature and distress. Now is the perfect time to do that and many have found themselves drawn to plants because of it. But don’t just stop with caring for your plants! Get in a better relationship with mother earth and try to become more sustainable. Take the time to really appreciate the beauty and abundance the Earth has given us. It really is a unique experience!