Legal editor Miriam Geiger, 30, from Massachusetts, feels she has a connection to plants, whether they are indoor houseplants she takes care of in her living room or outdoor plants and herbs in her garden.
She explains, “My parents and I have always attempted to keep plants wherever we have lived.” “I grew up with a genuine connection to nature since my mother was a gardener and landscaper and because my father took us on treks. We raised herbs and other plants; in fact, I still have some of the plants I propagated from my grandmother’s collection after she went away.
During the COVID-19 shutdown, Geiger’s importance for growing plants increased.
The presence of plants, especially in the early stages of the epidemic, was very consoling and useful, according to the author. As a result of having access to a little backyard garden and an outside space, Geiger was able to maintain a strong connection to nature.
Geiger is not alone himself. Research has showed that having indoor plants or access to outside greenery improves people’s mental health and that sales of indoor plants increased during the epidemic.
The majority of students reported having severe COVID-19-related mental health concerns, including high levels of melancholy and anxiety, according to a recent survey of 353 students conducted over two semesters in 2020. However, interacting with plants and the natural world both inside and outside had some advantages, as seen by the kids’ questionnaires’ lower levels of despair, anxiety, and stress.
Why Are Plants Good for Us?
There is a lot of research trying to figure out the mechanism behind the mental health benefits of plants, according to Catherine Simpson, PhD, an assistant professor of sustainable and urban horticulture at Texas Tech University and co-author of the study of students’ mental health and relationship with nature during the pandemic.
According to Simpson, “both active and passive contacts have benefits,” and she cites the biophilia idea, which holds that people have a natural desire to be close to nature. We are fundamentally drawn to nature, she claims.
In fact, “active interactions with plants tend to be therapeutic, and horticultural therapy is a growing profession,” she adds, adding that research has proven it to speed up recovery and have other positive effects on mental health.
Being in nature is “helpful as well,” but working with plants physically can also “help with dexterity and physical health.”
According to one study, actively repotting an indoor plant lowers blood pressure and calms the sympathetic nervous system, the area of the nervous system that is activated during stressful situations. Other studies have showed that even just being among plants can be calming. One hypothesis puts forth that the benefits of being around plants may be attributed to the aesthetic benefits that they provide to a home or the beauty of nature, which may help reduce stress.
How Are People and Plants Related?
In a recent survey of 1,250 American adults, Trees.com discovered that over half of those polled admitted to conversing with their plants and/or trees, and of those who did, one-fifth claimed to do so daily. Nearly a fifth admitted to kissing their plants, and many people thought of them as “pets.”
Geiger spent more time with her plants throughout the shutdown. “I discovered that I would sit with them more frequently, tending to them not just once a week like I used to, but every other day or even every day, watering them or tending to them.”
She conversed with her plants, too. I would speak to my plants occasionally, such as saying, “Oh, you seem thirsty,” when they needed some water, or “You look sad, let’s take care of this,” when they needed trimming, rather than speaking to them as though they were my “therapists” or anything like.
She claims that this is typically how she engages with the outside world. She enjoys learning more about plants. “Whenever I’m out for a stroll, if I come across a plant or flower that seems particularly interesting, I might softly touch it to get a feel for it. Many people miss out on some unique textures and feelings in the world.
When asked why they talk to plants and trees, 62% of poll participants stated they do so to improve their own mental health, and 65% indicated they do it to help the plants develop.
Geiger has discovered that her connection to flora has a positive impact on her overall mental health, not only during the pandemic. Additionally, it helps her become more accustomed to the outside world and strengthens her feeling of family connection through specific plants, such those that were part of her grandmother’s collection.
She exhorts others to engage in gardening.
She notes that “many individuals are terrified of cultivating plants.” “They believe that I’m going to kill them, oh no. I’m not very skilled at gardening. However, the actual secret to taking care of plants is to have plenty of them and practise until you get it right. A plant’s death is inevitable in nature.
So, she counsels, don’t deny yourself the advantages of owning plants out of fear. Additionally, you can enrol in live or online classes to learn more about caring for plants. Geiger herself participated in a local foundation’s herb and gardening course.