Plants & mental health: how greens combat the blues

Plants & mental health: how greens combat the blues

At Atrium Plants we saw a huge up-take in sales over the lockdown period and it wasn't just us. Worldwide the COVID-19 gardening boom seemed to spread as fast as the virus. This trend wasn't just fueled by boredom, the need to decorate our homes or food security, but as one student put it:

"Gardening feels like an intimate relationship that physical distancing can’t take away.”

Plants make people feel better!

Green Therapy is a phrase we are hearing more and more lately, which is no surprise considering the mental illness statistics. One in six people in South Africa suffer from anxiety, depression or substance abuse problems, according to the SA Depression & Anxiety Group (SADAG). Add the pressures of a global pandemic to the mix, and everything is compounded.

Most people’s thinking when they add plants to a space is that they bring “life” into a room. This idea in itself is great from a mental health point of view, however, on a deeper level, it is more the attending to the plants that is serving the plant parent, rather than the plant just “livening up” the room.

"Requiring a certain amount of attention and understanding to thrive, having a plant in your home means you can’t be selfish and unobservant. One of the biggest healing processes in mental health is awareness," Rochelle Blomeyer, life & mental health coach and plant paramour

It's about being aware of the self, being aware of how you are feeling under certain conditions, being aware of your triggers, being aware of changes.

 

 

Watch the video: We love how Sibu Mpanza talks about how plants help him live his best life.

"Plants give me a sense of responsibility, and it's a reason for me to wake up in the morning and give them a little love." Sibu Mpanza

When a plant is thrown in the mix of daily things that can feel mundane or anxious ridden, your thoughts need to be drawn from time to time to this living, changing entity that is subject to the circumstances you put it in. Notice its leaves wilting, notice it perking up after being watered, notice it forming new leaves and growing taller.

With more and more people having less access to nature, bringing plants indoors creates a sense of “serene green” to slow down with. There have been numerous research reports confirming the effects of nature on people. Fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, higher attention span and people being more able to relax and able to concentrate. Not to mention less allergies and asthma.

Another incredible way that plants help with depression or anxiety, is that they are not perfect and still survive, they bloom in fact. Plants aren't perfect, they never have been. Plants' leaves can wilt and tear, they can get weird marks and the odd gross bug. At the end of the day, the plant is fine, it will change, recover, and keep on going. The blemish on it’s leaf won’t kill the plant, the same way your pimple, or negative thought is not what's going to ruin you.

Here are some plant suggestions, based on their needs, that can be compatible with yours:

  • If you are feeling emotionally drained and like you never have enough time, a Japanese Agave, also known as the ‘Kissho Kan’ is perfect for you! The name 'Kissho Kan' in Japanese means "happy (lucky)”. These low maintenance succulents are said to live for 100 years at a time. 
  • If you are feeling anxious, overwhelmed or are battling to get to sleep, a lavender bush inside your home is what you are after. Rubbing the flowers now and then as a reminder to take some time out will stimulate your “calm the eff down” senses.
  • If you are the more gentle type who needs a reminder to be more resilient at times, the Snake Plant will show you how. They are highly adaptable and survive mostly anything.
  • Needing to breathe a little easier and clear space in your mind? The Bamboo Palm will assist you more than you think! Approved as a way to filter the air, these eye catching plants are also easy to look after.

We can learn so much from nature just by noticing it.