Real Talk 11th April 2023 by Anja Zauers
Nurtured By Nature: All The Benefits Of Plant Therapy
Trees, grass, green plants, parks, beaches, open fields, and flowering gardens have quite a lot to do with general overall happiness.
With the world of wellness constantly expanding, sometimes going back to basics is the simplest and most effective way to feel better. The green thumbed amongst us will already be aware of the benefits that come from gardening alone, but did you know there is an actual clinical practice which goes that bit further, known as plant therapy? In a nutshell, plant therapy, also called horticultural therapy involves engaging with – you guessed it – plants, to help overcome certain health issues, with some studies even showing that by just looking at greenery, we can reduce our anxiety and feel calmer.
For Erin Thomas, owner of Hopeless Botanics, plant therapy “is a fancy term for feeling closer to nature, and all the calmness that can come with it.” While submerging yourself in nature and greenery can be like a “little holiday for your mind” and “a momentary break” free from your to-do list. So what’s the goal? Well, ultimately it’s to help people build self-confidence, social connections, increase compassion, and get out into nature more frequently.
“I find having plants in my home to be so calming, their vibrancy and colour soften the edges and can make any room beautiful,” says Erin. Yet, she adds to be mindful of not letting caring for plants stress you out. “You want them to have the opposite effect of that – where you enjoy seeing them grow, and take them as they come, as living works of art.”
Incorporating plant therapy into your life
First things first, there are many ways that plants can be used therapeutically, so when it comes to choosing the right method for you, it all comes down to your interests and personality. Different methods can be used either individually or asa combination to help boost your mood and deal with health woes.
Spending time outside
Going for a walk and spending time in nature is probably the easiest form of plant therapy you can experience, not to mention the most accessible! While going for a walk isn’t exactly a new concept, taking time to acknowledge your surroundings and be present can make all the difference. Nature trails can do wonders for both your physical and mental health, while local parks are perfect for finding a bench or laying on the grass and watching the world pass by. So, next time a little bit low try and get yourself out of the house even if it’s just for 30 minutes. Guaranteed you’ll feel a sense of relief.
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Invest in some plants
Whether it’s house plants or you decide to pick up gardening, either results in a relaxing and rhythmic activity that allows people to lose themselves in its enjoyment. When it comes to house plants, the bigger the better explains Erin. “I personally prefer medium and large plants, as I find caring for small plants to be more work. I love the instant impact and feeling you get when you walk into a room and see a gorgeous big plant, it’s the first thing our eyes are drawn to,” she shares.
Experts recommend moving away from the succulents and venturing into bigger leafy plants such as snake or spider plants – both are resilient and low-maintenance so no need to feel intimidated! Plus, they help freshen the air around you. If we’re talking about the other end of the scale, some of the best plants to use in therapeutic gardens include fragrant plants (rose, lilac, pine), edibles (fruit, vegetables and herbs) and seasonal annuals like pansies or tulips. Benefits include improved self-esteem and feelings of nurturing and responsibility for taking care of something, all while fostering a feeling of connection to the earth and the world around you.
Of course, paying attention to what we eat and how much fruit and vegetables we consume can positively impact both our mood and energy. So, whether you decide to grow them yourself or pick them up at your next grocery shop – you really can’t get any closer to plants than consuming them.
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If spending time in nature isn’t your thing, you might be able to reap some benefits similar to those of horticultural therapy through the use of essential oils. These organic compounds are made from various plant parts, such as roots, seeds, leaves, and blossoms which can be used to boost your mood, mental state, and overall health. A simple way you can incorporate essential oils into your lifestyle is by diffusing them, using them in a bath or applying them topically with a roll-on or during a message. Oils recommended for easing symptoms of anxiety and depression include rose, lavender and frankincense, jasmine, sandalwood and chamomile. “I love using natural products created just miles from where I live and made with care and consideration using plants in season. Sugarloaf Botanics and Warrior Botanicals are favourites of mine,” notes Erin.
Plant therapy and mental health
Believe it or not, there are many ways that people can use the power of plants to ease symptoms of mental illness and today it’s even recognised as having potential positive effects on memory, language skills, socialisation, and brain cognition. While on the physical side of things, studies have shown that it can also help with balance, stamina, muscle strength, and coordination. At the end of the day plant therapy is a natural, practical, and effective way to help us take care of ourselves and have a positive impact on our mood. So next time you feel yourself getting a little bit anxious or low, why not turn to one of these methods to regain a sense of calm and connection? Because as it turns out trees, grass, green plants, parks, beaches, open fields, and flowering gardens have quite a lot to do with general overall happiness and satisfaction with life.
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