While gardening and owning plants is nothing new, interest in “green thumb hobbies” has grown over the last year and a half, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With people spending more time at home, they’ve had the opportunities to create beautiful gardens and to become “plant parents”.
It’s no wonder plant hobbies have become so popular. The benefits are seemingly endless, especially when it comes to your mental health.
Whether you currently pride yourself on being a plant parent or you’ve considered getting into the world of gardening or plant ownership, understanding some of the wellness benefits can help to boost your love of all things botanical.
Let’s cover some of those mental health benefits, and how you can introduce more greenery into your life.
The Gift of Gardening
If you have the time and dedication to start your own garden, you’ll be greatly rewarded in a variety of ways. The mental health benefits of gardening include:
- Improved focus
- Boosted mood
- Improved self-esteem
- Greater attention span
That only scratches the surface when it comes to what you can expect. Depending on the type of garden you cultivate, you can gain more confidence by growing your own food. You can also take pride in knowing you’re living a more sustainable lifestyle with every harvest and giving back to the planet by reducing your reliance on store-bought produce.
If you join a community garden, you can improve your socialization skills and combat loneliness (a big problem throughout the pandemic!), and you’ll enjoy the extra mental and physical health benefits of spending time outside. Simply being in nature can improve mental health issues like anxiety and depression, and can make you feel happier and less stressed.
You don’t have to have much gardening experience to get started. Do a bit of research on what might grow well in your environment, and take some extra time to make sure your garden is a safe environment for yourself and your family. You can do that by starting small, using raised planters, and making everything easily accessible so you can take care of it properly each day.
Becoming a Plant Parent
Maybe you don’t necessarily have the time or space for a full-blown garden, but you still want to enjoy the benefits of plants in your life.
Try becoming a plant parent.
It’s more than just a catchy term or cute title. For some people, simply having a living thing to look after and care for can make a big difference in their mental health. If you live in a rental property where pets aren’t allowed or you just don’t want to take on the responsibility of a dog or cat, plants are a great option.
Indoor plants are accessible for almost everyone, and in addition to giving you something to nurture, they can provide mental health benefits like:
- Reduced anxiety
- Better memory
- Reduced stress
- Improved mood
- Increased productivity
You don’t need to know much about houseplants to use them in your home decor. But, some are easier to care for than others. If you’re just getting started or you know you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to each plant, choose varieties that don’t require much fussing or attention. Some of the easiest indoor plants to take care of include the money plant, snake plant, and aloe vera. Striking a balance between plants you think will look good in your space and those you can easily care for should be your goal. But, don’t let any variety intimidate you if it’s truly what you want.
Don’t Forget the Physical Benefits
Though we’ve been focusing on the mental health benefits of plants, we can’t ignore the impact they can have on your physical health, too.
When your mind is relaxed and you’re less stressed, your body will respond accordingly. You’ll produce less cortisol (a hormone that can lead to weight gain), your blood pressure will lower, and your heart rate is more likely to be in a safe zone. So, the mental health benefits of plants will absolutely affect your physical well-being, as well. It won’t take long for you to notice a change in your overall well-being.
Plus, if you choose to plant a garden, you’ll get in a great workout each day by weeding, watering, and basic maintenance. If you can’t get a lot of activity otherwise, it’s a low-impact way to keep moving and to get your heart rate up without over-exerting yourself.
Plants are a wonderful way to practice self-care, both from a physical and mental standpoint. If you’re just getting into plant ownership or gardening for the first time, you’ll quickly find out that it’s a lifestyle change rather than a hobby. It’s something you can do (and enjoy) for the rest of your life and reap the benefits every day.
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