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I had thought, for a very long time, that I did not really have much of a green thumb. Only recently have I realised that perhaps you do not necessarily need to have extensive knowledge of how to take care of plants to be able to grow plants either indoors or outdoors. I have found that the internet can be very helpful when learning about what different plants need, which plants to choose if you have very limited time to care for your plants, and so on. So if you are like me, perhaps do not shoot down the idea of trying to grow and care for plants so quickly. Numerous literature speaks about the many ways in which plants help our mental health; something that many of us invest a lot in taking care of. I will be sharing with you 3 ways in which plants can also help us do so.

  1. Recovering from stress

Having plants in our homes provides us with a way to recover from stress. The stress-reductive property of plants has, in fact, been researched not only in the home but in a number of contexts. Beukeboom et al. (2012) found that patients who are recovering in hospitals experience lower levels of stress when exposed to real plants. Stress-reduction has been observed even in office settings where employees are exposed to plants in the workplace. In such scenarios, employees reported higher attention capacity, lower stress levels and higher levels of satisfaction from viewing plants (Callaghan and Mallory-Hill, 2016; Berto, 2014).

2. An eye for the little things

If you do decide to give growing plants a try, take some time regularly to notice the little things. Take note of the flower’s scent, notice any new growing leaves, perhaps observe the way leaves sway in the breeze, or watch the intricate patterns and beautiful colours. Engaging in practices where we focus on using our different senses and studying the little details can give us a break from worrying about tomorrow, or thinking about what happened yesterday. Instead it provides us with a moment to be more mindful, more observant and aware of what is present at that point in time.

3. Continue learning

The United Kingdom’s NHS described how people who invest time and energy in continuing to learn reported higher levels of wellbeing, self-esteem, hope and purpose. This means that if you are a beginner in gardening and plant care, you can take advantage from all there is to learn about the subject. On the other hand, if you have gained knowledge through your experience of caring for plants, you can also decide to share this knowledge with others to help and support their learning.

Rebecca Cassar is a Family Therapist practicing the Systemic Approach. She specializes in offering therapy to families, couples and individuals who are experiencing distress in their relationships. She can be contacted on rebecca@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817

References:
Berto, R. (2014). The role of nature in coping with psycho-physiological stress: A literature review on     restorativeness. Behav. Sc. 4(4): 394.

Beukeboom, C.J., Langeveld, D. & Tanja-Dijkstra. K. (2012). Stress-reducing effects of real and artificial nature in a hospital waiting room. J. Alt. Compl. Med. 18 (4): 329–333.

Callaghan, A. & Mallory-Hill, S. (2016). Biophilia and nature-based features to support stress reduction in knowledge workers.

https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/guides-tools-and-activities/five-steps-to-mental-wellbeing/